This past weekend I spent time with my 6 grandkids. Their lives are filled with iPads, pizza, longboards, and whiffle ball. Life is good for them. I’m guessing between all of them the biggest life disappointment is in getting light blue Nike shoes instead of navy blue. But by the time you’ve lived more than 5 decades the disappointments have piled up.
- You’ve been disappointed at work because you didn’t get the promotion.
- You’ve been disappointed in your kid who made failed to live up to your expectations.
- You’ve been disappointed when the doctor told you the disease had no cure.
- You’ve been disappointed when your spouse fell out of love and cheated on you.
- You’ve been disappointed when your best friend cut you off and you still don’t know why.
We’ve learned disappointment is part of life. But here’s what we didn’t count on and no preacher ever warned us about: we became disappointed in God.
We church people can’t talk about it. This is especially true for those older saints who are looked up to as examples. It’s religiously incorrect to say God has disappointed us. We can’t tell people outside the church for fear it will turn them further away from God. And so we keep it bottled up inside. Like the feeling you get from reading in the car too long you go through life dazed and confused.
Failing to deal with disappointment in God is deadly dangerous. Disappointment can turn into disillusionment. Disillusionment leads to distance between us and God. Before you know it, deep on the inside where no one can see, you’ve turned your back on God. You didn’t mean for this to happen. But over time the disappointments added up until you’ve lost count.
- You prayed and asked God to deliver you from an addiction but you still struggle.
- You asked God to heal your best friend but he died anyhow.
- You heard a sermon on tithing and you gave money to the church but instead of getting more money like the preacher promised you still couldn’t pay your bills.
- You wanted happiness out of life and begged God for it but you remain angry at what life has brought you.
- You see all the pain, hurt, and injustice in the world and are disappointed God doesn’t do something.
- You begged God for your dream job but it went to another applicant.
And now you struggle with disappointment in God. You can’t talk to anyone. God seems like a distant relative you are forced to see on Christmas and Easter. What should you do?
Here’s 5 steps to help you walk away from your disappointment in God to get you back to God.
First, and this is a big one, admit your disappointment.
Church people are pretty good at lying to themselves. We have been taught not to say certain things or feel certain emotions. It’s important for us to act and talk and feel a certain way. But you will never be free of your disappointment in God until you admit to yourself and to God your disappointment.
Sure. Pray about it. Confess it to God. But here’s something else to try: write a letter to God. Confess in detail why you are disappointed. Be butt ugly honest. He knows it all anyhow. It’s time you get it all out. Then when it’s all on paper burn it or flush it or shred it or tie it to a helium balloon and let it go.
Second, remind yourself God knows what He’s doing.
We tend to see from our own small perspective. The perfect job for us might be, from God’s perspective, not the perfect job. Because God sees all He knows if you take the “perfect” job something bad will happen to you. Or, if you win the million dollar lottery God knows you will go off the deep end and completely rebel against Him. God knows what’s best for you.
God is trustable. When you beg God for something or on behalf of someone and He doesn’t come through remind yourself God is looking out for you. In looking back on my life I am thankful God didn’t say “yes” to all of my prayers! News flash: God knows what He’s doing far more than we know what we are doing.
Third, remind yourself of all the times God did come through for you.
We tend to focus on those moments when we feel God let us down but what about all those times when He came through in a powerful way? God has not answered all of my prayers with a yes but He has come through many times for me.
Take a moment and make a list of the times God answered your prayers. Think of your important life moments and how God played a part. Write it all down. Hang on to this list and review it every day until the disappointment starts to fade.
Fourth, it is important to remember God is in charge, not you.
As a kid I knew how to work my parents. I had them all figured out. Against all odds I got a St. Bernard puppy living in our basement and a beat up Honda motorcycle. Trust me. These were amazing accomplishments. How did I do it? I knew how to work the system.
But when it comes to God there is no system to work. You cannot manipulate God. He cannot be bullied or coerced into doing your will. Maybe you’ve heard preachers or Bible teachers or Christians say if you pray a certain way God MUST come through. Have you heard someone pray, “I claim it in Jesus name?” Or have you heard someone talk about prayer and say if we pray with a certain method God MUST answer? (As I type I blush remembering a sermon title early in my ministry: “7 Golden Keys To Answered Prayer.”) Prayer is not a magic genie lamp which, when rubbed with church words, forces God to do what you want. God is in control. He does what He wants. And what He wants to do is good things for His children.
Five, instead of focusing on your disappointment in God focus on God’s disappointment in you.
Turn the tables and see what it looks like from God’s viewpoint. Start with this thought: God has done so much for you! He loves you. He is cheering for you. But, be honest, you are a disappointment to Him.
There are times when God told you to say an encouraging word to a depressed friend at work but you didn’t. Remember the time God told you to give extra money to the church but you “forgot?” And what about the time God made it clear you were to do a ministry or maybe even become a minster but you went a different direction. Each of us has disappointed God far more than are perceived disappointments from Him..
It’s time to make peace with God. Work on your disappointment in God. And when you dare to fight your defeating attitude against God be prepared for the clouds to roll away. There is a new day waiting for those who walk away from disappointment in God and back into His arms.
Very well stated and thoughtful. I have a son who is bitter against God. Your thoughts would be great for him to read, however, he would fly off the handle at me for suggesting such. Help me to pray for an opening to share with him.
Thanks for your comment! I’m hoping people will feel free to share this on Facebook so people who need to read it might do so.
Randy, excellent post. Yes, I’m definitely going to share it. I struggle with disappointment sometimes, so it’s good to remind myself of the many times He has blessed me beyond measure. And I know that there are some who’ve grown so disappointed and disillusioned that they’ve given up on God.
William, I pray that your son will realize his need to turn back to God, whether it’s through your words or someone else’s.
Randy, this was thought provoking. It is a feeling I often have. I have spent my entire life in the church and grew up hearing so much teaching on how to get God to do something, and even more damaging, that because we are _________ (fill in the blank) we are special or chosen and. Bad things will not happen to us if we follow the “magic program” of the hour or belong to the right group. So, I sort of reeled from one formula of successful, amazing, financially rewarding teaching to the next, Disappointment in my “failure” changed to disappointment with God and the church. I admit I am still working through it. One thing that DOES help is to reject the “special” label, the notion that because of what I do or what church I attend, or hiw much money I give, I am somehow immune from the hurt and trouble of being human. Why shouldn’t cancer, addiction, unemployment, etc, etc, touch my life? God is not my golden ticket to skip through life. The rain dalls on the just and the unjust. Sh#t happens. ( Oh man, I’m peaching now, aren’t I?) anyway, I’ll stop.:-) Thanks for adjusting my perspective this morning.
Thanks for your commentary! I like your contribution to the blog by suggesting we have become disappointed with God because we are taught we are special and/or exempt from trouble. Thanks friend for being a reader and sharing your insights!
It is soooo true that ” church people are pretty good at lying to themselves”. And then they let their brothers and sisters in Christ buy into that same lie. Very isolating!
This is what I was looking for. Been ranting and raving at God bitterly for a few years now. About to give up. Then a thought struck. If you love something, let it go….I think I need a vacation from god to reorganize my thoughts. He’s showing me some tough love right now and I’m not handling it the way I think I should be. So I typed up is it ok to step away from God? Not like turn my back and never talk to him again but more like going on a personal retreat. Figuring out why I’m so miserable since He’s being tight lipped on it. Seriously I could fill 10 pages lol. But this is good. This is a plan of action I can try and see if it’ll help my relationship with Him. I do want a relationship with Him but the anger and trust issues are eating me alive. So thank you!
I’m really grateful you found the article helpful. Keep me posted on your progress!