Disappointed with God?
Recently I’ve met a number of people who feel disappointed with God. As long as our suffering is self inflicted we seem to cope a bit better, ‘after all I’m the one who got myself into this’ we say. But when we are trying our best to live a good Christian life and yet suffering and setbacks come our way, the struggle is more difficult: the sudden death of a parent or a loved one, the unjust loss of a job, the inability to overcome an area of weakness, a cloud of depression, the betrayal of a fiancé – the list can go on.
At this point we become emotionally more vulnerable and for some people, an evident or maybe subtle disappointment with God sets in. The devil, the accuser of the brethren’ (Rev 12:10) is primarily ‘the accuser of God’. Read Genesis 3:1-6 and see how sowing doubt on the holy character of God was effective with Adam and Eve. And if they were convinced to doubt God’s goodness before the fall, we can imagine that it is easier for us wounded men and women to do so after the fall. We’ve all inherited this lurking suspicion of God and the terrible tendency to indict Him. That is why faith and trust are so important.
Look how C.S Lewis puts it when he wrote in the time when his wife was suffering with terminal cancer:
Not that I am ( I think ) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all “ but “So this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.
(‘A Grief Observed p.9)
I don’t intend to explain suffering in this blog. My purpose in writing is to share some thoughts which may help you when disappointment with God becomes real and you are tempted to shrink back (for some even to the point of abandoning their faith as we read in Hebrews 10:39). It may be that an unconscious decision to give up on prayer also sets in. Others find it hard to trust the Lord as wholeheartedly as they did yesterday.
So what if I am presently experiencing this disappointment in my relationship with Jesus and feel dismayed about God’s apparent silence? Here are some points I have found helpful. They are not exhaustive but if in prayer you internalise them, they will help you.
1. Speak openly with God about your anger and hurt in His regard. He can handle it.
Do so with respect but with an open heart
Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?Ps 44:24
Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?Ps 88:14
2. Affirm the truth of these two very important scripture passages. Mark them in your Bible.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5
3. Humbly accept that unlike what we have often believed, prayer and following Jesus are not like a fully comprehensive insurance against all suffering.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So peace is not the absence of trials and troubles – it is the presence of Jesus in the ‘boat’ when even it is stormy
(see Mark 4:35-41).
4. Ask forgiveness for pride. Our ‘raised fist’ towards God is a dangerous stance if cultivated and not dealt with.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Pet. 5:6,10-11
Resist the temptation to turn to ‘quick fixes’ to dull the pain. Like the Prodigal Son who went to feed the pigs, it only makes things worse.
5. Why me? Well everyone can say that in one area or another of their life.
We need to resist self-pity and even ask forgiveness for it. Maybe you may want to read the book of Job
When we read Job we are like a child eating spinach ‘Open your mouth and close your eyes.’ Job, like spinach, is not sweet tasting. But it puts iron in our blood’ (Peter Kreeft,Three Philosophies of Life,pg 61).
6. Be open to the Holy Spirt who even in the midst of our pain testifies in our heart that God is our faithful Abba
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
7. Do not abandon prayer even if it is hard. Keep on lifting up your difficult situation to the Lord, trusting God that He is really taking care
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1/ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
8. Keep the eternal perspective before you
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
9. Read a good book on the subject.
It is amazing how few people do this. May I suggest ‘The Truth About Trouble: How Hard Times Can Draw You Closer to God’ by Fr Michael Scanlan and ‘God on Mute’ by Pete Grieg. Both are available on Amazon,
10. Last but not least open your heart and share your burden with a trusted mature Christian.
And ask him or her to pray for you and with you
Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Christianity is a life of painful joy.
I’m sure there are many other valid points that could be raised. It is hoped however that these will help. God is good and only He is totally innocent. Yet Jesus dies for us on the Cross and rose again to share His very life with us. Although moments may come where we are tempted to doubt His faithfulness be assured that He will come to us with His comfort if we persevere. … and guess what? We in turn can comfort others.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Cor. 1:3-4