Life sure does give reason for disappointment at times, doesn’t it?. Health issues, broken dreams, lost jobs and difficulties of all sorts cause me to ask “why?” This last year has been tough. There have been times when the most I could do was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And sometimes I would cry out to God, “Why would you bring me here to this place in my life only to see me fail, broken, and so useless and unhappy? What’s the reason or purpose behind all of this?”
A friend of mine recently recommended Philip Yancey’s book Disappointment With God. She also has been struggling with physical injuries, lost dreams and broken relationships. It’s been a tough year for both of us.
Philip Yancey does an excellent job of examining the Bible to understand why we all suffer from such disappointments. He travels from Adam, who had the perfect relationship with God before eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, to Job, who suffered the ultimate in disappointment. He asks, “Does seeing more evidence of God make it easier for us to believe?” He looks at the Israelites traveling through the dessert, who experienced God’s presence in a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day and witnessed miracles of water coming from rocks and manna provided each morning to feed them. Yet, they too cry out to God in disappointment. Such real evidence of God in their lives didn’t seem to increase their faith or trust in him. They still doubted.
Philip Yancy draws the conclusion that no amount of miracles or visions of our Lord would make us believe and trust in God more, resulting in less disappointment. In fact, it is often the silence of God that draws us closer to him and increases our faith.
God desires a true and honest relationship with us. He wants us to choose to love him. People often ask, “If God really wanted our love and faithfulness, why didn’t he make it easier for us?” He could have programmed our hearts to always love him. But would it have been a love given freely or a love that was “program” or “demanded”? If we look at our own relationships we appreciate much more the ones where we are loved in spite of circumstances or situations. God also desires our love, given freely, not because he has performed miracles or given us our every desire but because we have chosen to love him.
From the Bible, I know that God is good. So, I must look through glasses of trust rather than doubt when times are tough. God doesn’t promise that life will be easy. But he does promise that he will never leave us or forsake us. Even if he feels a million miles away, he sees and knows the struggles we are experiencing. God came to earth as a man, Jesus, and experienced all of the same disappointment we are now experiencing. Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Go and read the book Disappointment with God. The last few chapters look at Job, who suffered the loss of his health, his family, and his wealth and yet still believed in God. This book encouraged me to not give up hope when life is tough, but to trust even more in the Lord. May it encourage you as well.