How Do You Respond When God Doesn’t Act As You Think He Should?

“And the Lord will guide you continually …”
Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)

Sometimes God just doesn’t act on our situations the way we believe He should. How can we respond when He’s disappointed us?

Six weeks before the big day, my daughter Laura began searching for the perfect invitations. After making her choice and addressing the envelopes, the invitations were on their way to friends and family, scheduled to arrive the requisite one month ahead. 

Then she began planning the details: searching for and finding the just-right plates and napkins; ordering a cake and matching iced cookies from her friend; buying balloons, party favors, and other little fun touches. 

Baby Emma Cate was about to arrive at her first birthday. 

First birthdays are always an important occasion for the parents. But this one was especially so because Emma Cate was a Covid baby, born during lockdowns and masks and greeted upon her arrival with waves, kisses, and tears of joy through hospital room windows—no visitors allowed! 

Dennis and I were looking forward to this happy first birthday. 

But on Tuesday morning Dennis learned he had tested positive for Covid. Even though he was vaccinated. The next day big brother Lincoln woke up with a fever. Better by afternoon, but worse overnight. On Thursday the pediatrician diagnosed him with the highly contagious hand-foot-mouth disease. And that afternoon the birthday girl started running a fever; on Friday she was miserable. She wouldn’t eat, she cried and whimpered, and she needed to be held all day long. 

The cake and cookies arrived as planned but Laura had to cancel the party. All of us were discouraged by the barrage of setbacks to our plans full of hope and excitement.

On Friday I texted Laura: “I’m so sad we can’t come. Another disappointment in God moment for us.” And then I typed a thought I’d never had before: “I wonder if God gets tired of His children being disappointed in Him all the time when everything He does for us as our Father is in love. I would.”

In the grand scope of the story God is writing with our lives, a canceled birthday party is a very small thing. But in that moment of our lives, and in the greater context of the life-altering worldwide pandemic, it was not only sad but bewildering and perplexing.

Why was I disappointed? 

As a Christian, I have come to know a few things are true about God. First, He is all-powerful; as Jeremiah 32:17 tells us: “Nothing is too hard for You.” Even the simple healing of a virus.  

Second, He has promised “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). This birthday celebration seemed a good thing to me, so why withhold it? 

Third, I know God leads and guides His children. Isaiah 58:11 says, “And the Lord will guide you continually …” If I were God I would have guided us and my grandchildren away from those germs for the delight of giving Emma Cate’s mom and dad a wonderful celebration of her first year of life. 

And yet … God didn’t act as I wanted Him to.

And often that is the root of my disappointment in God. This has been a theme in much of my life through experiences much more weighty than a missed birthday party. I am human and can’t comprehend who He is or why He does what He does. So I find myself disappointed when my knowledge of His Scripture indicates that God should or could act a certain way but He doesn’t. 

I don’t understand. But neither do I blame Him. I just wish He had intervened.

How Do You Respond?

Have you wanted to blame God for things He could have easily prevented or fixed? 

Have you lived with long-term disappointment? 

I’ve learned that, even in our disappointment, God is there waiting for us. His ways are not our ways, and He has a purpose for everything He allows in our lives. I’m learning to trust Him. 

In His Word

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

In Your Life

What are some experiences where you were disappointed in God?

What did you learn about God in that experience?

We Recommend

If you want to know more on this topic, I just released a new online video study called “Cultivating Hope in Times of Hardship and Disappointment.” Be sure to look for it here.

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