When You’re Deeply Disappointed With God

It is easy to believe in the good times—when things are going great, prayers are getting answered, and God is obviously on our team. But just cut off the flow of blessing, squeeze our faith a little, push us out of the comfort zone, let God get outside of that nice, neat theological box we like to keep him in—then take our spiritual temperature and see if we’re still aflame with faith.

Read: Matthew 11

John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:2-3)

Let’s be honest—we’ve all been deeply disappointed with God. Sometimes he doesn’t live up to our expectations. A prayer didn’t get answered the way we wanted, when we wanted: a healing didn’t occur, a job was lost, a relationship went sour, a marriage wasn’t saved, a loved one refused salvation, a child died…

That’s when faith really gets tested. It is easy to believe in the good times—when things are going great, prayers are getting answered, and God is obviously on our team. But just cut off the flow of blessing, squeeze our faith a little, push us out of the comfort zone, let God get outside of that nice, neat theological box we like to keep him in—then take our spiritual temperature and see if we’re still aflame with faith.

John the Baptist was there. He had obeyed the call of God early in his life as the forerunner of the Messiah. He had arranged his whole world around announcing Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. He had lived an austere life, preached his heart out, courageously confronted the religious establishment, boldly challenged sinful hearts, and called Israel to national repentance, all to prepare the way for Jesus. He expected his faithfulness to God and obedience to the call would usher in the Kingdom of God when Jesus showed up and launched his messianic ministry.

But now he was in jail. He was in a pretty serious situation that in a few days would lead to his beheading. And Jesus was out there preaching to small crowds, doing a few miracles here and there, and not taking this Messiah thing very seriously. John was disappointed, to say the least.

Did you notice how Jesus handled John’s disappointment and doubt? Not with a brow beating, not with a rebuke, not with anger, Jesus simply reaffirmed John and spoke about his value in God’s eyes. Jesus understood where John was coming from.

Jesus also understood that God’s timing was way different than John’s. John wanted the Kingdom now, and when it didn’t happened, he questioned. So Jesus redirected John’s faith—he encouraged him to take his eyes off circumstances and put them back where they belonged:

“Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” (John 11:4-6)

Jesus is inviting John to keep his eye on the undeniable evidence of God’s activity; to stand firm in the unshakeable hope of God’s Kingdom; to lean into the unbreakable promise of God’s Word; to never let go of the irrefutable goodness of God’s character. And then, when it’s all said and done, John is just to fiercely trust!

We’ve all had those kind of doubts, questions, disappointments and perhaps even anger with God when he doesn’t live up to billing. Maybe that’s where you are today. That’s okay—God is big enough to handle your upset—provided you do as John did: Own up to your upset. God won’t give you a holy beat-down if you’ll come to him with a humble and honest heart. He’ll simply reaffirm your inestimable value and remind you of his everlasting love—and invite you to trust.

And at the end of the day, you’ll never be disappointed when you trust God. The Apostle Paul, who knew a fair amount about suffering, wrote these encouraging words in Romans 5:3-5,

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

What If God Took Over?
Have you been honest with God about the doubts you are having—especially when they concern your confidence in Him?  He invites your thoughts, worries and concerns—so right now is a great time to talk to him.  And to listen.  And then, to fiercely trust!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “When You’re Deeply Disappointed With God

  1. i am ashamed to say that i am in that situation right now . It scaresme a little. I have studied the word about healing ever since my Godly husband died of cancer leaving me with four beautiful sons. Its like I stand on the word, submit to God , rebuke the devil, proclaim His word , stand on his word, put my whole heart out there, do everything I can possibly do and then people still die . Its hard to get back up and trust again. Maybe I should be like a lot of christians and just say Gods will be done and then dont worry about it. But then I dont understand why are there so many scriptures that absolutely say it is Gods will to heal?

    • I wish I could answer the "why" question for you, but I can't. Only the Sovereign God knows his plans for you. And there are some things that will only make sense on the other side of eternity. That's why the greatest gift we can give back to God is our trust–especially in the face of life's howling winds of adversity. What I can do for you is pray–which I will do immediately. And may God come alongside you in your distress, and may you know him in a way that only comes in times of loss and despair as the God of all comfort.

  2. Trust in hard times is SO overwhelming & confusing. I am struggling not with the death of an individual but with the death of a dream. One I had for about 30 yrs. I thought I was on the right track with God concerning this desire. I thought he was going to bless it. I waited, prayed, and trusted. Now, after God has said no I feel lost; lost like I have never been before. I don't understand how I could have been so wrong. And though I believe God is the oly one to turn to in times like this-it is also difficult to turn to him b/c He is in a way, the one who allowed this pain. Though I know logicaly that God's ways are just and best, my heart now questions him. I long to feel God's healing grace again.

    • The walk of faith, particularly when the way is dark, is not the easy path. That's why it's called trust, I suppose. Your post reminded me of Hebrews 11–the stories of great men and women of faith who never received what had been promised, but they were noted for their faith because they looked past the results one might hope for in this life to the relationship they would have with God in the next. That is what made them great people of faith. I trust you will be one of that growing number in God's great hall of faith!

  3. How does God expect me to trust him when he is completely silent though he holds ALL power in his hands? It seems cruel that God would sit silently by while I suffer to the point of wanting to die. I am starting to believe that there is no God, and that I have spent 20 years of my life believing a lie. As a Christian, it has been more hurt than I can stand, and I've reached a point where I refuse to blindly believe. I want evidence. I feel like I have tricked myself into believing in God. I could have been enjoying life on my own terms; which I will now start doing!

    • Marie~ I don't know the details of your disappointment with God, but I would just simply appeal to you not to throw away your hope (Hebrews 10:35)…God has a way of bringing sense out of suffering, but we have to hold on. That, after all, is the essence of faith. (Hebrews 11)

    • I am feeling somewhat the same, I feel like He lied. Lied about loving me ,lied about wanting the best for me, lied about me being His child. How can watch your child go through a tough time and not even try to help them.

      • My feelings exactly. Jesus said even sinful, human fathers don't give their kids snakes when they ask for bread so, how much more generous would God be with his children? But that's not my experience. I ask for bread and get stones.

        • Jack~ Thanks for your honesty. I think that’s a necessary beginning point if you are to move past your disappointment into a deeper experience of ruthless trust. Speaking of which, I’d high recommend Brennan Manning’s Ruthless Trust.”

  4. I used to spend time in prayer, but now dont. Im fraid of waiting and beliving..then being disappointed. I feel lost very confused, not sure who He is anymore. I figure if i dont ask for anything ,then i cant be disappointed. I dont understand His Love.

    • I don't know your situation, so I won't try to explain away the depth of your disappointment with God. All I can do it point you to others who felt similarly and somehow patiently endured in their faith–and were ultimately rewarded with God's peace, comfort and approval. Job, for instance, would have certainly understood your pain–yet he patiently endured. Most of the people listed in Hebrews 11 would have understood your disappointment and felt your pain–yet they patiently endured. One of the greatest rewards of the faithful will be for patiently enduring when there are a whole lot of reasons not to. I pray that you will be one of those stories of patient endurance.

  5. I am so unhappy with god because he left me to be disfigured and in pain and never grant any of my prayers for myself or others. I no longer waste time on this god. I just do what I gotta do and look forward to leaving this life. No more gods exist for me. People can talk about god's promises but promises that aren't kept are worthless. I no longer desire god or heaven. I desire that those of us suffering in life be allowed to die. That is all I care for.