There have been times in my life as a believer when I've prayed for something fervently–something good, something I assumed was part of God's will, something I couldn't wait to see Him accomplish.
But then, it didn't happen.
In these moments, I'm often left wondering why God didn't respond exactly as I expected. After all, verses like Psalm 37:4 tell us, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires." If this is true, why wouldn't God grant me the good gift I had been praying for? Perhaps you've walked through seasons where you've wondered the same.
What do we do when we feel disappointed by God? Here are a few tips that have been helpful for me.
- Reorient Your Heart to the Truth
First, it's important to remember our God doesn't make mistakes. Even if we feel disappointed, we can remember His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
What's more, Romans 8:28 reminds us "all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Even when we can't make sense of our lives, we can trust God is working on our behalf, so He may be glorified.
- Turn to God in Prayer
In our disappointment, there's no better place to turn than to Him–but if we're being honest with ourselves, this may feel like the last place we want to go in these moments. However, as Christ-followers, we must remember that we are in a relationship with the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). Our loving Father delights in comforting us in our disappointment.
We also ought to recognize God is strong enough to handle our disappointments. We don't need to protect Him from our true thoughts, emotions, or desires–and we need to look no further than the book of Psalms to know this is true. Almost a third of the psalms are described as "psalms of lament." In these Scriptures, the psalmists pour out their hearts before the Lord, not holding anything back. We can come to God with the same posture, knowing that in Christ we can "approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
- Remember God's Faithfulness
In these moments, it's also important to remind ourselves of God's faithfulness, and there are two distinct ways we can do this. First, we can turn to God's Word. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a complete story of how God keeps His promises to His people–even when they don't deserve it or it looks different than they expected. When you're facing disappointment, let your heart be encouraged by the truth of Scripture.
Second, we can look to God's faithfulness to us in seasons past. Whether you've been a believer for two weeks or two decades, God is writing a unique story of His faithfulness in your life. But too often, we forget His great works and are left wondering if He really has our best interest at heart. In moments like this, flip through old prayer journals and marvel at all He's done for you, or simply start a running list of every good gift you've received from the Lord. Write down as many as you can think of, and soon you'll have a list longer than you can imagine recounting His faithfulness. If God was faithful then, He will be faithful now.
- Share Your Disappointments
When I feel disappointed, I'm often tempted to turn inward. But perhaps moments like these are precisely why God has given us the gift of community–committed Christ-followers who are willing to walk alongside us, point us to the truth, and help us when we are weak.
One biblical example of this can be found in Exodus 17:8–13. The Israelite army was in the midst of a fierce battle, and Moses stood on a hilltop nearby. When his hands were raised, the Israelites prevailed, but whenever he put his hands down, their enemies prevailed. Soon, however, Moses's arms grew tired, and he could not lift them on his own. That's when his friends Aaron and Hur came along. In Moses's weakness, these two men held up his arms for him, one on each side, so the Israelites could claim victory.
Later, in the New Testament, we see the story of a paralytic who comes to Jesus for healing–only, he can't make his way there on his own because he is unable to move. So, four men offer to carry him to Christ. When they arrive, a large crowd keeps them from reaching Jesus, so they remove the roof over Jesus's head and lower their friend to be near Jesus, so he could be healed (Mark 2:1–12).
In times of disappointment, when you feel unable to move forward on your own, surround yourself with the kind of friends who will lift your arms when you are weak and carry you to Jesus.
When we face disappointment of any kind, the best thing we can do is draw near to God. As we do, we can be confident that His ways are not our ways, and God's plans are beyond all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
As we continue to draw near Him, we will find ourselves less and less disappointed when our own desires aren't met. Why? Because more and more, our desires will start to reflect His. And what God has planned, He will be faithful to accomplish (Psalm 138:8, Philippians 1:6).