As we progress through life, we will have times of disappointment. At times those disappointments will be minor. At other times they will be of a greater magnitude. There will be times when life challenges and disappointments will feel life altering and shake our very countenance, shake our faith. There will be times when what we prayed for, what we hoped for, what we envisioned just doesn’t come true. There will be times that no matter how committed we are to bringing something to fruition, it just doesn’t happen. There will be times when we feel deeply within in our spirits that God is guiding and ordering our steps in a specific direction. In those times, we do all He has asked, all He has called us to do. There will be times when we fully embrace God’s guidance and as His word says we “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open unto you”. And despite all of this, the outcome is exactly opposite and counter to our hopes and expectations. What happens when we have prayed, we have asked, we have sought and we have knocked and God’s answer is “No”?
I recently had one of those experiences that in its immediacy appeared to be a disappointment of great magnitude. One of which caused me to question my faith, my discernment and spiritual alignment with God. Thankfully this spirit of doubt only lasted a short period. I’m also thankful that within a fairly short period of time, God revealed (as He always does) the reason why the outcome was the direct opposite of what I expected, what I believe He had conveyed.
We all have times when we question God. We all have times when we feel that God has forsaken us however, we are often hesitant to admit our doubts. I recently heard Pastor Joel Osteen share that we must be careful to not get down on ourselves when we have periods and seasons of doubt. The reality is we all have doubts and at times have felt like God has forgotten or forsaken us. Pastor Osteen reiterated that even Jesus struggled with doubt when He was on the cross and when in the depths of His pain he cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. Now I don’t even begin to pretend to compare my life disappointments to Christ’s suffering. However, I do know that disappointment and doubt are very human experiences and emotions. Thus, I can remain comforted in knowing in the depths of my soul that Christ not only knows my pain, knows my disappointments – but experienced the same at a level that I could never imagine.
In sermons, I’ve often heard it shared that God’s answers to our prayers are “Yes” and “Amen”. However, I’ve rarely heard messages on when God’s answer is “No”. I’ve also heard it shared that God’s answers to our prayers are “Yes”, “No” or “Wait”. I feel like this is a much more accurate depiction of how God answers our prayers. I’m learning that everything that we pray for and hope for is not for our good. And as His word says “He is working all things together for our good”. So, when no matter how much we pray, how much we hope for something to occur and the answer is “No” we have to be ok with God’s response because He ultimately knows what is best for us.
As scripture says “His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts.” I am continuing to learn that I cannot begin to comprehend all that God has done and will do in my life. When disappointments occur or when God says “No” we will rarely fully understand in the moment the reasoning behind the decision. However, in due time and in reflection I’ve learned that He will bless us with Divine revelations.
I’m also continuing to learn that the faith walk is about trusting God in all things, and trusting God for all things. No matter what it looks like in the physical, faith is about trusting God in the spiritual. As His word says “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. Faith is ultimately trusting in God’s Divine timing, His Divine guidance and His Divine decisions. Our minds can only comprehend at a miniscule level in comparison to all God knows. We have to take the limits off of God and trust that whatever direction He guides our life is the exact and best direction for us to go. His word also says that “faith without works is dead”. I had to be reminded that in walking in faith, I must also continue to move forward, taking steps and actions to put my faith into action.
I realized in struggling with my own disappointments that we cannot say to God, “Let your will be done” and then be saddened, disappointed and even angered when His will is counter to our expectations. We cannot claim to have faith and trust in God’s omniscience and then question the direction He’s guiding our lives and the decisions He is making on our behalf. Nor can we question His omnipotence or omnipresence and believe that at any point in our lives He has forsaken us. The reality is, we will never fully know the outcome until it occurs. So, it’s best to embrace our faith, take the steps we can and sit back and watch God work.
I also now realize that all disappointments are ultimately a Divine gift – especially those that appear life altering. Our disappointments, which are often momentary situations, are like an unwrapped gift that we are blessed to open at a later date. Once we calm our spirits and take the time to open it up, what remains within are Divine revelations. Revelations that could only be received, lessons that could only be learned through experiencing our disappointments. Within that gift of disappointment is the opportunity to grow closer to God, to trust Him more and to ultimately truly surrender all things unto Him. So when we pray, when we hope, when we expect – we must be willing to fully surrender the outcome to Him. Because He always knows best. As much as it may not seem so in the moment, our disappointments are truly a Divine gift carefully handpicked just for us.
I am so very grateful for a renewed perspective on the disappointments that have occurred in my life. In reflection, I have much more gratitude for when God has said “No” because, I know His “Yes” is what is best for me and oftentimes beyond my wildest imagination. In this reflective spirit and on this day, I again open myself up to God and fully surrender all to Him. I will wait with great excitement and expectation of His next steps for my life. I will put my faith and trust in Him. I will thank Him for His “No’s” and trust in His Divine decisions for every aspect of my life.