Is it wrong to feel disappointment with God?Question: "Is it wrong to feel disappointment with God?"
Answer: Disappointment with God is not necessarily wrong or sinful; rather, it is a part of the human condition. The word disappointment means "a feeling of dissatisfaction when one’s hopes, desires, and expectations fail to come to pass." When God somehow fails to satisfy our hopes or does not live up to our expectations, disappointment inevitably follows. If God does not perform in the manner we think He should, we become disillusioned with Him and dissatisfied with His performance. This can lead to a wavering faith in God, especially in His sovereignty and His goodness.
When God does not act when we think He should act, it is not because He is unable to do so. Rather, He simply chooses not to. While this might seem an arbitrary or capricious act on His part, the exact opposite is true. God chooses to act or not to act according to His perfect and holy will in order to bring about His righteous purposes. Nothing happens that is out of God’s plan. He has control of every molecule that floats around in the universe, and God’s will encompasses every act and decision made by every person throughout the world at all times. He tells us in Isaiah 46:11, “From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” Even the birds are somehow part of His foreordained plan. Furthermore, there are times when He chooses to let us know His plans (Isaiah 46:10), and times when He does not. Sometimes we understand what He is doing; sometimes we do not (Isaiah 55:9). One thing we do know for sure: if we belong to Him, whatever He does will be to our benefit, whether or not we understand it (Romans 8:28).
The key to avoiding disappointment with God is to align our wills with His and to submit to His will in all things. Doing so will not only keep us from being disappointed with God, but it will also preclude grumbling and complaining about the events that occur in our lives. The Israelites in the desert griped and questioned God on several occasions, despite having seen miraculous displays of His power in the parting of the Red Sea, the provision of manna and quail in the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord that followed them in the form of a pillar of fire (Exodus 15–16; Numbers 14:2-37). Despite God’s continual faithfulness to His people, they grumbled and were disappointed with God because He did not act as they thought He should. Rather than submitting to His will and trusting Him, they were in a constant state of turmoil and confusion.
When we align our wills with God’s will and when we can say, with Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), then we find the contentment Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and Philippians 4:11-12. Paul had learned to be content with whatever God sent his way. He trusted God and submitted to His will, knowing that a holy, righteous, perfect, loving, and merciful God would work all things together for his good because that is what He promised. When we see God in that light, we cannot possibly be disappointed with Him. Rather, we submit willingly to our heavenly Father, knowing that His will is perfect and that everything He brings to pass in our lives will be for our good and His glory.
Recommended Resource: Everything Happens for a Reason? God's Purposes in a World Gone Bad by Paul Enns
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