What? God let you down?
Some of you just got so uptight. Performing intellectual cartwheels through all of your theological platitudes.
“Why dear brother, God can never let us down.” “God‘s ways are simply not our ways.” “We must never question God.” “Just keep believing.” “God always answers prayer.” “Miracles are just around the corner, etc., etc.”
Well done. You’ve memorized some good Biblical principles. Line upon line they have been written upon the tablets of your human spirit. And for the record, I agree. 27 “…Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27b)
But tell me, what happens when you meet someone who says,
“I love God. I go to church and I practice tithing. I talk to the Lord regularly about the things that weigh heavy on me. In my prayers, I ask… I seek… I knock. Then I wait and wait and wait some more. In the end, God remains silent. He takes no action that I can see. Instead, the awful often happens. I am hurt and angry. I don‘t understand why he chooses not do things that seem so clearly right to me. Why doesn’t God keep His word like the preacher said He would? What happened to all those exceeding great and precious promises that I read about in His book?” I‘m confused and empty inside. God has let me down.
This person is clearly dejected. And there are many more just like him.
“Why did I pray so intently for a healing… and that person died?”
“Why did I ask God for a child for twenty years… but I never conceived?”
“Why didn’t the Lord help me raise the money to save my home?
“If God is so good, why is His world so miserable and unhappy?”
There are no easy answers for these questions. But this is certainly not the time to start quoting all of those well-ordered one liners from the promise box.
The raw concerns of real life are painful to confront. It‘s easier to carry the burden of pretending everything is going to be just fine. So we tell ourselves,“God is going to make all this crummy stuff disappear one day soon and everything will be much better”.
What happens when“someday soon” never seems to come?
Hiding your hurt, anger, and disappointment behind facades of God-speak and mechanical Christianity is poison to the soul. Your spirit slowly fills with a contagion that destroys your faith in God.
If perception is your reality, then I might as well just say it; from where some of you sit right now, it sure appears that God has let you down.
But here is what I believe; it‘s your expectations that have been dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. And now, it‘s hard to navigate the waves of this life with a faith that has run aground.
Inadvertently, we absorbed many erroneous and unconfirmed“facts” about God in the course of a lifetime. We read books about what He has promised to do for us when we pray. All of the sermons, seminars and a million casual conversations have molded our interpretation of what we can expect from Him. Some of these expectations are spot-on. Some are not. The trouble begins when things don‘t go the way we expect. We begin to feel deceived. And over time, our faith grows weaker.
Unfulfilled expectations are worse than low expectations. It is okay if you sometimes feel like God has grown silent and even turned away. In reality, He has not. I know this because He plainly said,“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
But that is not how you feel right now.
Take a deep breath. Cry if it helps. But please, do me this favor, listen carefully as I retell some important spiritual realities.
- Prayer isn‘t an extraordinary process for getting things to go your way.
- Prayer isn‘t a guarantee of satisfaction.
- Pain and struggle cannot be removed with simple requests.
- As a rule, God doesn‘t wave supernatural wands and instantly change things.
- God exists outside of our time dimension and, because we are chained to the ticking of the clock, He will often seem to move agonizingly slow.
- Life isn‘t fair and you cannot change that.
Welcome to the Ragamuffins. We are the waifs and strays who follow that marvelous incarnate man from heaven who once visited this planet by way of the Galilee. Daily we struggle to “work out the salvation that God has given us with a proper sense of awe and responsibility” (Philippians 2:12). As one among us, it will always be safe for you to share your individual fears, disappointments and pressing concerns. We will laugh and cry with you as we patiently await His return. And I promise you, one day all will be understood.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656