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4 Keys to Dealing With Disappointment With God

Sad young woman with head in hands sitting lonely.

I write this article for myself as much as for anyone, because over the past thirty-odd years of ministry I have become disappointed with God. At least, that's how I expressed it at the time. I prayed, I planned, I promoted ... and somehow things just did not prosper as I thought they should have. I have counseled many people over the years about job loss, marital issues, terminal illnesses, wayward children, all sorts of addictions, and inevitably I hear people say how disappointed they are — even angry — with God. We tell ourselves that we did all the "right things," and yet we still experience traumatic loss or failure. Where is God? Why didn't He come through for us?

For some, the disappointment eventually fades, for others it deepens into anger and resentment or despair. This article is not to "judge" or condemn anyone. I have struggled in this area too. My attempt here is merely to analyze what makes us do this, and to bring a little hope to those who are currently struggling with a belief that God has let them down.

1. We have unrealistic expectations.

I read that an expectation is a gap between what we expect and what we experience. Years ago I asked my then 88-year-old evangelist friend, Michael Guido, how he could keep such a good attitude — especially when he was personally going through some tough times. He smiled and said, "I expect nothing."

He realized that this world owes him nothing. And honestly, God owes us nothing. If I got what I deserved from God, I would be in hell. But entirely because of His grace — hell is cancelled for me and I have eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9). His grace is not something I am "owed," however. My friend reminded me that each day was a gift, and we all have a choice in how we are to respond to its challenges.

Think about our unrealistic expectations for a minute. Do you expect to retire with lots of money? Do you expect to enjoy good health forever? Do you expect each day to be painless and carefree? Why do you do that? What in your experience has led you to believe that you should expect any of this?

No one has a carefree life, no matter how much money or fame or power they have. (In many cases, the people with tons of money and fame have had miserable lives. I think of the tragic ends of Robin Williams or Heath Ledger, for example.) No one gets out of this life pain free. None of us will escape death. Even God Himself when He walked this earth allowed His creation to put Him on trial, mock Him, and torture Him to death on a cross. Why should my life be exempt from suffering?