Although few of us want to admit it, it is my firm suspicion that everybody has found themselves, at one time or another, disappointed by God.
Among those who DO admit to it, there are those who've gone the extra half-inch from being disappointed BY God into being disappointed WITH God. And with church. And with other Christians. And with doctrinal divisions. And with the whole spiritual conflict in general.
It isn't enough to have some well-meaning friend remind you that 'life is hard, and at the end, you die." Or that 'God never promised you a rose garden.'
I beg to differ. There are apparently clear and unambiguous promises in Scripture that He did so.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)
"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" (Matthew 7:9-11)We, as parents, do all that we can to provide our children with a 'rose garden' existence. To the degree that our children let us. Which means there are a lot of thorns in that rose garden.
Jesus asked which of us would give our children a stone instead of bread? Children NEED bread, even when they ASK for stones. You can pray for diamonds, but God knows what your are going to NEED in the days ahead.
Sometimes, God, knowing your future, says 'yes.' (If He didn't, you'd never see a Christian lady wearing a diamond ring.)
And sometimes, in His infinite foreknowledge, He knows you are asking for a stone, but what your future will demand is more bread. To you, in the here-and-now, its a diamond.
But if you get hungry enough, a diamond is just a stone. (Bread's better. Trust me on this one.)
"Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not."He goes on with this seemingly contradictory statement,
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."Assessment:
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 21:32)So if it is the Father's good pleasure to give me the kingdom, how come He won't give me a better job? How come He won't make my credit score higher? How come He won't make life easier for me?
Or, the Big Question: God created the world in six days out of nothing. How can it be that, no matter how many times I ask Him, He still hasn't helped me to quit smoking, overeating, drinking, (fill in your own 'how come' as needed)?
How come I pray for courage to boldly speak out for Christ, but can't find it when I need it? How come I pray for healing and it doesn't happen? How come the more I pray for understanding, the more confusing it all gets.
Why DON'T You DO something about this?
The Bible says, "with God, all things are possible."
Until it comes to my shortcomings, or my health problems, or my personal problems. Then sometimes, they are evidently even too big for Him, since I still have them.
And it isn't all that helpful to have somebody tell you that, "God works in mysterious ways," either. It doesn't seem that mysterious. It's God's good pleasure to give me the kingdom.
Did Jesus not say,
"And whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son?" (John 14:13)'Prosperity Gospel' preachers twist these Scriptures to mean that God wants you to be materially healthy, wealthy and wise. They tell you that first. Then they explain that all you have to do to obtain these blessings is 'let go' of what little material wealth you have.
(To them, of course, so they can continue to spread their 'message' that God wants other people to let go of their material wealth (to them) so He can shower them with wealth, too.)
The truth is, this world ISN'T 'the kingdom' that the Father takes pleasure in giving me. I am IN this world, but I am not OF it.
The promise is valid, it is the reward that is misunderstood.
And Jesus was speaking to the Twelve directly, whom He was granting the power, in His Name, to do the miracles recorded in the Book of Acts as they went out to start the early Church.
The Apostles were given that authority as a form of credentials, that the "Father may be glorified in the Son."
The power to perform miracles in Jesus' Name proved to the early Jewish converts that their message of salvation by grace through faith was not blasphemy, but came directly from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God has a plan for each of our lives, but it is seldom the plan we expected or wanted. We don't see the same end-game that God does.
Sincere Christians sincerely seek God's plan for their lives by seeking God's will for their lives. Sometimes, it is like trying to find a particular tree in the middle of a forest. We need to step back and take a look at the whole forest for a minute.
What IS God's will? In the sense of the forest, and not that one particular tree, I mean? If we can discern God's will overall, it helps to define what role we are to play in fulfilling His will, and in so doing, not following our own 'lusts', as James put it.
Peter says that, "the Lord is not slack concerning His promise," but then adds, "as some men count slackness."
Dwell on that second phrase, for a second. We don't see things the way that God does. Thinking we do is a sure recipe for disappointment. So what is important to God?
"but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2nd Peter 3:9)Dissect this with me, and we'll find the answers to the questions we've pondered; "Why hasn't God taken away my bad habits, why hasn't God cured my health problems, why won't He help me get a better job, why am I disappointed with God?", etc.
Peter says that God is long-suffering towards His messengers, because it is not His will that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.
From the Apostles until this time, the Lord has used His people to spread the Gospel that salvation is open to all men.
So God's will is that this message be carried to ALL. And there are places that only you can go; people that only you can reach. People that trust you because of who you are, warts and all. Think about it. God has been equipping you your whole life for your mission.
That's why you are who you are.
When Paul went directly to the Lord to pray for deliverance from some unnamed affliction he felt hindered his ability to carry the Message, Jesus told him;
Instead of being disappointed with God for not dealing with Paul's offending tree, Paul stepped back and took another look at the forest and concluded,
"Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2nd Corinthians 12:9)The Message is God's Perfect Will, but it is carried by imperfect men. If only perfect men could carry the Message, Christianity wouldn't have made it out of the first century.
You are the messenger God has chosen to carry His message now. Not later, when you feel that God has equipped you to your satisfaction.
(If you were not chosen, you wouldn't be reading this right now-- and you already have all the credentials necessary to carry it at this moment. The first requirement of salvation is that one must first be a sinner.)
God has not let you down. He has equipped you for your unique mission for the Kingdom.
For in your weakness is His strength made perfect.