Let’s face it. If you’re a person of faith, you’ve likely been disappointed by God. Ooph- just reading this probably made you cringe. Writing it made me cringe. If we’re really honest, we’ll admit that there has been at least one significant time in our life that we’ve prayed and believed for something that the Bible tells us God will do, and then He didn’t do it.
What if it’s not God who disappointed you, but your expectations of God?
What are your expectations of God? Have you ever really considered what those are? We all have them, even if we’re not consciously aware of it. Do you expect God to answer your prayers? To bring you out of difficulty? To heal the sick? To remove corrupt government leaders in the world? God is certainly able to do all those things, and He does.
While God has promised to do certain things, He hasn’t promised to do them in the way or the timing that we want.
Does God always answer your prayers?
When I was about eight years old, I was eating at Sizzler with my family. Our server was a blonde-hair boy with an Australian accent. My family was at the salad bar getting a second helping and I was sitting at the table with no way to entertain myself. I studied the bill which had the words, “Thank you! Tom,” handwritten on the back from our server. Leaning my head on one hand, I placed a finger from my other hand on the bill and flipped it away just as Tom walked by. He flashed a smile at me.
“Hey!”, he said, “I made that just for you and here you are, tossing it away.”
That’s all it took to ignite my first childhood crush. I was sure this was true love and I prayed for the next two months that I could marry that Aussie. I didn’t marry that man. I didn’t even get a date out of that prayer. Of course, I would have had to wait another eight years anyway!
For a while, I was really disappointed. If I dig deeper though, what I was actually asking for was to be seen and known. I was asking to be loved.
If we break it down, we’ll find that at the center of most of our prayers, we’re just asking to be loved.
When we pray for God to rescue us from difficulty, we’re actually asking for peace. We believe we'll have peace when things are going well. But that’s not always true. Many of us still experience anxiety when things are going well. Peace is something we have when we feel deeply loved.
When we pray for healing, we’re seeking comfort, compassion, and peace- all the things we feel when we're deeply loved. When we pray that corrupt government leaders would be removed from office, we feel like those leaders are hurting us and others. They are being unloving.
So why don’t we just pray to be loved?
We usually don't examine the reason why we want something. We don't think in terms of the cause, i.e. we want to feel loved, we think in terms of the symptom, i.e. we want to find a spouse. We think that if we can control the symptoms, the cause of our discomfort will be resolved. God works differently.
He tells us that we shouldn’t rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) and that His ways are not our ways, in fact, they’re better (Isaiah 55:8-9). God knows what we really need and has masterfully and creatively established a way to accomplish it for your benefit.
We’re told that we need to have faith when we pray (Matthew 21:22-24).
Is faith expecting that God will do what we ask? I think faith is believing that God can do what we ask. I also think faith is trusting God enough to ask that even above our own request, that His will is accomplished.
God has already answered our prayers to be loved. This is the one expectation that we can have without experiencing disappointment because God’s love for us is constant, unfailing, and unending. He always has been, and always will be, in relationship with us as long as we show up and participate. Through every difficulty, every form of pain, and every attack, God never leaves our side.
His love for us is perfect. He doesn’t betray us. He doesn’t cheat on us or abuse us. He doesn’t abandon or ignore us. He doesn’t lie to us or steal from us.
His love gives us peace through any circumstance; it’s gentle when we’ve really screwed up; it’s unconditional when we continue to hurt Him; it’s kind even when the world isn’t; it’s good by encouraging and guiding us, and it sparks joy after long seasons of sadness.
God is a God of miracles, healing, reconciliation, and transformation. He is a God who rescues and fights for us. He is strong and powerful, and mighty to save but that doesn’t mean that He will do things the way we want them to be done and in our timing.
It is our expectations of God that will determine whether we are disappointed in Him or not.
We can save ourselves from past and future disappointment if we no longer try to place Him in a box, but instead release Him from our small expectations and hold onto only one:
He will always perfectly love me.
Find and follow my 100 Day Challenge to find God in my every day at #IFoundGodIn