Disappointment

Last week, I wrote about God’s faithfulness and steadfastness. There are two worship img.jpgsongs I heard on my Amazon Prime Music playlist this morning that focus on those two divine characteristics— “King of My Heart” by Bethel Music and “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin. The choruses go like this:

Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh

You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
And You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

I have sung both many times, but this morning I realized that, while being ultimately true, we may not experience in the moment the sentiments of these songs. I know plenty of people who have felt let down by God and who do not feel particularly loved by him in the midst of difficult or even devastating circumstances. While, as I related last week, I don’t include myself in that category, there are plenty of people who are disappointed in God and do not feel loved by him. Perhaps this includes you.

Disappointment in God develops for two reasons. First, we are often very shortsighted. We only see what is right in front of us, what we are currently experiencing. If we are living through a divorce, dealing with a significant illness, experiencing betrayal or grief, or a host of other troubling circumstances, it is easy to become disappointed because life is suddenly very difficult. We get stuck in the present and cannot imagine anything good in the future.

When my mother received a devastating terminal cancer diagnosis, I was a student in graduate school. My world was turned upside down, particularly in light of losing my dad several years earlier. Yet, the proceeding two years of suffering brought about some amazing things in my mon’s life and my life, as well. Mom had grown up in the church and saw to it that her three boys were raised in the church as well. But my mom wasn’t a true Christian. It was only after her diagnosis that she truly began reaching out to God. One Sunday, a year or so after her diagnosis, we visited my former campus ministry at my alma mater to attend its worship service. During the service, it was announced that several students would be baptized that afternoon. She leaned over and whispered into my ear, “Do you think I could be baptized, too?” I looked at her smiling and nodded my head. That afternoon I had the privilege of baptizing my mother. As a result of her illness, my mother committed her life to Jesus! What seemed so tragic, the Lord had turned into a rich blessing. He didn’t heal her in this life, but she surely joined him in the next fully healed and without pain. Having faith in the goodness of God helps us to step out of our moments of tragedy and hurt to recognize whatever we’re experiencing will be ultimately for our benefit.


A second reason for disappointment is our misunderstanding of love. Most of us associate love with good feelings and pleasant experiences, but if we think of loving a child, often to the child what we do out of love is not experienced by her as something pleasant. For example, a bedtime is set because we know the child needs a good night’s sleep. However, when the bedtime comes, the child often resists going to bed, sometimes even throwing a tantrum. At that moment, it is fair to say, he doesn’t feel very loved. Or take parenting a teenager and enforcing a curfew. If “Johnny” wants to join his high school friends for a late-night, unsupervised party that is going to go well beyond his curfew, your enforcement of that may anger him. He doesn’t want to be left out, but you know what dangers lurk. You enforce the curfew because you love him, but it is almost guaranteed he will not feel your love.

God is a good, good Father, but, just like a child who sometimes is deprived of what she wants, we don’t always see him that way. He can be a great disappointment to us because we don’t fully understand the expressions of his love. The writer of Hebrews wrote to his audience, who was suffering tremendously because of their faith, about the reality of God’s love:

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  “Make level paths for your feet,”so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:4-13 NIV)

The key word in this passage is “submit.” At the core of our disappointment is our resistance to submit to his will. We may view our circumstances as cruel, unfair, or undeserved, but when you look at the context in which this was written, the persecuted believers could all say the same. They were often brutally mistreated, but the writer removes from them and us the excuses that naturally come to rationalize our feelings and attitudes. He simply states that the difficult circumstances we face in a fallen world the Lord uses for our ultimate benefit, to mold us into the men and women he created us to be; to prepare us for the Kingdom to come.

While he empathizes with our immediate pain, as I think all good parents do towards father.jpgtheir children, he has a much more farsighted view of our lives. If we are to avoid disappointment, then we need to trust in his judgment of what he allows us to experience in life. He indeed loves us and wants what’s best for each of us, even though at times we will be tempted to think otherwise. He truly is a good, good Father!

© Jim Musser 2019

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2 thoughts on “Disappointment

  1. Once again such a timely piece for me to read. I am realizing that I am fighting against submitting to Gods will because the suffering is so great. Surely God doesn’t intend for me to suffer like this. But He is a good good Father and I hold onto trust that I will see His goodness in the land of the living.

    Like

    1. I continue to pray for your healing, Diane. Life is so hard sometimes, yet our hope is what we can cling to.

      Like

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