“Are you disappointed with God?”
I was taken aback at the direct questioning. Instant indignation. ‘Of course not, that would be wrong. I made the decision to stick with my good God and praise Him through any circumstance,’ I thought.
Resisting the urge to vocalise my thoughts, I took a step back to reflect.
A few weeks later, prompted in a conference ministry time, I found myself voicing out-loud a series of disappointments from the last few years, bubbling up unexpectedly from deep within.
Maybe you have been ill for years or can’t see a breakthrough with your non-Christian friends? Maybe you long for family or your life plans already seem dashed? Maybe you face debt, redundancy or grieve the loss of a loved one?
When we are faced with circumstances we would never choose, it’s only human to be angry, confused and disappointed. As we go through Christian motions, have we let these experiences cloud our view of who Jesus really is? Have we started to view Jesus through this distorted lens of experience, rather than through truth in Scripture?
God talks directly to Abraham and Isaac in Genesis but Joseph gets random dreams through Egyptians. Joseph had jolly good reason to be disappointed in God. His efforts to do good had been thrown back in his face – sold into slavery, he refused Potiphar’s wife and was thrown in jail and when he saved a cell mate’s life they forgot he existed.
Philip Yancey in Disappointed with God, says: “Through everything Joseph learned to trust not that God would prevent hardship but that He would redeem even the hardship. Choking back tears, he explained to his brothers… you intended to harm but God intended it for good.”
Debra Searle is famous for rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic solo, after her husband and team-mate was rescued after a week. It took three and a half months instead of an intended six weeks and she faced prolonged isolation and very real dangers. Sobbing at the oars, she would row 20 miles and then head winds would push her back 30. She said: “I had to choose my attitude. Nothing else out there I had a choice about but I did have a choice about how I responded to those things.”
We too need to choose our attitude, claim the promises of God and trust Him despite circumstances, And trusting Him doesn’t mean just putting up and shutting up. God can definitely handle us telling Him why we are hurt, disappointed or angry. Be real.
It was so good for my soul to be real and to expose lies and cynicism. They were replaced by love and freedom.
I have a choice. Do I let questions and mysteries become the most important thing? Do I refuse to worship until I get an answer? Or do I leave these disappointments and questions with Jesus at the cross and know that who He is and what He has done is enough?
I love these song words:
“I’ve had questions, without answers
I’ve known sorrow, I have known pain
but there’s one thing, that I’ll cling to
you are faithful, Jesus you’re true
When hope is lost, I’ll call you saviour
When pain surrounds, I’ll call you healer
When silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart.”
When Tears Fall by Tim Hughes