One of the most read blogs I have written is “When You Are Disappointed With Your Spouse.” I guess this blog has been read often because in marriage, we are often disappointed. Our spouses, quite frankly, let us down. Forgotten anniversaries, thoughtless gifts, unspoken or harsh words, not listening, inactivity in the children’s lives, not romantic, etc., are all ways we are disappointed in our spouses. We’re disappointed because they fail. They disappoint us because they are sinners. They disappoint us because our expectations are unrealistic. And after such disappointments we are left with the task of dealing with our disappointments.
Spouses aren’t the only ones who disappoint us. If we are honest with ourselves and God, we are disappointed with Him. It’s not that God sinned against us, but there are times we some feel as though God has wronged us. The death of a loved one. Sickness. A lost job. A wayward child. A cheating spouse. Any form of suffering that we feel is undeserved, unwanted, or untimely is a ticket to Disappointmentville.
As we wrestle with our disappointment with God, it’s important to look at a few questions: Why are we disappointed with God? What did we expect or want from Him? What do we need to do to overcome our disappointment?
First, “Why are we disappointed with God?” This is an easy answer for most people. We’re disappointed because God didn’t do what we think He should have done. We conclude He made the wrong choice or a bad decision and if I had a choice, the outcome would have been different…even better. We might argue, “If I was in charge, this wouldn’t have happened. A better decision would have been ______.” Or maybe we might say, “He (She or I) didn’t deserve this. He did all of these good things and he should have been rewarded or blessed, not given more suffering!” Such questions doubt God’s goodness and wisdom and proclaim that we know better or are more wise than He. Yet these questions are honest questions as we wrestle with pain and suffering outside of our control.
Secondly, “What did we expect or want from Him?” There are multiple answers to this question, yet perhaps all the answers can be summed up in this: Not this. If we say that we (or another) didn’t deserve what they we through, we expected Him to be like the boss who is obligated to give what is owed, such as a paycheck for work performed. If we say we wanted a life without suffering, then we expected heaven on earth. Or if we say we had dreams and God messed them up, then we expected Him to be compliant with our dreams. Any time we are disappointed with God, we wanted or expected something from Him, and He did not comply with what we thought would be best.
Finally, “What do we need to do to overcome our disappointment?” In other words, How do we deal with it? Many have chosen to distance themselves from God for an extended period of time. Disappointment quickly turns to anger and anger leads to 180 degrees from God and towards self. This can lead to depression or outright defiance against God. So, what can we do?
First, be committed to work it out with God. Don’t settle for being disappointed and distanced from God. Our natural tendencies may be to avoid conflict with God (or others) because we do not want to deal with the pain of the events that led to the disappointment. But if you aren’t committed to working through this, there may be additional hardships caused by such avoidance (anger, hurt relationships because of anger, etc.).
Second, humble yourself before Him. Confess your feelings, thoughts, and accusations to Him. It is not okay to be angry with God, but if you are, tell Him out loud (sometimes we need to hear it expressed out loud). Then repent. Remember that He is God and we are not. Reread Job’s arguments to his “friends” and to God. He also did not feel as though he deserved any suffering he received. Yet God’s response to Job (Job 37ff) involved Job’s need to repent and humble himself before God. Without humility, you cannot overcome your disappointment with God.
Being committed to work through the disappointment and humbling ourselves before God puts us in a place for the third step: Challenge your theology. Challenge your idea of what good means (Mark 10:18). Is God good all the time (& all the time God is good) (Ps 100:5)? Can He be good even when I am hurt? Can good come from what is bad/evil (Rom 8:28-29)? Is God wise (1 Cor 2)? Does He know what He is doing (Ps 147:5, Job 21:22)? Is His way perfect (Ps 18:10)? Do I know best or does God (1 Cor 2:16, Is 55:8-9)?
Finally, trust Him. This will be difficult to do if we don’t first humble ourselves and challenge our theology. In order to deal with our disappointment with God, we must believe that He is greater, wiser, trustworthy, faithful, all-knowing, compassionate and good. Does God have a plan? Yes. Do I need to know and understand what God is doing for it to be OK with me (Prov 3:5-6)? No. Is God good? Yes. Is what happened good? No. Will He turn it into good? Yes. How? We don’t know. Will you trust Him anyway? It is only when we believe in the character and promises of God that we can deal with our disappointments with God and move forward in our relationship with Him.
I’ve had a conversation with a man who lost his wife to cancer. He and several children suffered greatly at her death. As we discussed the loss, we discussed several perspectives. One, that his wife was taken away from him by God. The other perspective is that the Lord did not take her, but received her by His grace and made a promise that he will see her again through faith in Christ. It is because of the character and promises of God that brings hope to the disappointed.
Friends, all of us will be disappointed with God, probably many times in our lives, because He does not do what we want Him to do. Let me encourage you to continue to work out your faith and disappointments and draw near to Him who compassionately hears. Our ways certainly are not His ways, but God is good, God is Love, and God will not leave you nor forsake you. And if you need assistance, feel free to set up a time with one of our counselors. www.foundchristcounsel.org
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