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How to Handle Disappointment with God

Have you ever prayed for something, but God told you “no” or “not yet”? Or was His answer something altogether different than what you prayed for?

I found myself in such a position just last week. In fact, I’ve been in this position a lot recently. As I write and put in the work to advance myself on the path to publishing a book, I keep running into God’s “no’s” and “not yet’s.” Some of these “no’s” have been small, and I’m able to shrug them off without getting too upset. But sometimes, like the one last week, they shake me up a bit more.

Whether you are pursuing a dream of your own, the physical healing of a relative or are waiting on God to deliver in some other way, it is always difficult to not get what you hoped for.

How do we, as believers, deal with the “no’s” of God?

The morning after my news I was able to go for a walk around the lake. Fresh air and exercise are so good for our perspectives! I often have great revelations while I walk.

This morning, I worked through my feelings. Feelings are big right now, aren’t they? We want to do what “feels right” and we want to “feel like ourselves.” But friends, our feelings are not the best gauge of truth for our lives. Here’s what the Bible says about our feelings.

“The heart is deceitful about all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” -Jeremiah 17:9, NIV

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” -Prov. 28:26, ESV

“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:20, NIV

If we our honest with ourselves, our feelings are as reliable as a Magic 8 ball. Our feelings are often controlled by our hormones, our hunger level (hanger, anyone?) or our perception of our circumstances. All of these these factors fluctuate. Nope, our feelings are not reliable.

But should we feel bad if we are disappointed with God?

I don’t think so. But the key is this: we can’t let our feelings become our truth.

When we feel disappointed because God didn’t answer like we thought He should, it is common to have doubts and questions. More than common, I think it is okay. God is not threatened in any way by our doubts. He is secure on His throne whether we “feel it” that day or not.

You may have had questions like these:

  • “Is God really a good God?”
  • “Can I really trust Him?”
  • “Does God really know what is best for me?”

It’s okay to have these thoughts. Faith in God is built when we struggle through our feelings and come to believe the truth. Like I said before, feelings are fine, but they are not the truth.

Whenever I am faced with disappointment, and oh, I’m sure it will happen again, I go to the truth. What does God say about me and my disappointment?

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! “- Psalm 34:8, NLT

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.

“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so my ways are higher than your ways

and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT

I always come back to these last verses because they challenge my faith. God says His ways and thoughts are far beyond what I can imagine for myself. They are higher and better. That’s the truth because God said it and He is truth. It always comes down to this: am I going to step out in faith and believe it?

Proverbs 19:21 also talks about God’s plans vs. our’s.

“You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (NLT)

Again, God’s purpose takes precedent over our plans and our wishes. But why? Because He sees everything, like the verse in 1 John pointed out. He sees everything, and He works out all things for our good (Rom. 8:28). Again, this is the truth. Do we choose to believe it and walk in faith?

Faith is tricky. We are given faith by God when we first believe in Jesus (Rom. 12:3). But it is our job to make it grow. I love how my Bible study leader describes this growth. I know I’ve written it before, but it is such a good visual for a topic that is hard to grasp. She says, “Faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised if we want it to grow.”

Faith grows when it is pushed and stretched, just like our muscles. Faith does not grow in the comfort zones of life. How could it? In our comfort zones, we have no need for God to step in. We have no reason to call out to Him and expect Him to come through.

Because I was able to move past my feelings and focus on the truth that morning on my walk, I was able to see God answer my prayers in different ways. One of those ways was in my Inbox. I had an email from a blog I follow, and do you know what the subject was? Keep on Asking. 

Because I chose to have faith in God’s word and cling to His truth, I could channel my disappointment into Holy expectancy. I can keep on asking, because I know I will be answered in God’s time (Luke 11:9). I can wait expectantly, with faith, as I watch God work out His good plans for my life.

In spite of the disappointments of life, our faith can grow.

Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash

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Kristen Johnson

Kristen is an "accidental farmer's wife" and stay-at-home mom of 3. Accidental, because it was never in her plan to "just" be a mom. But it was God's. Former English teacher now turned MOPS Coordinator and Speaker, Kristen now writes at nap-time, blogging about her silly kids and her farming adventures, as a mom Called by God. She lives in Minnesota on a farm with her family, dog and 5 cats.