Lately, God has been pushing me to pray for the miraculous and impossible and really believe that it can happen through Him. And He has been answering those prayers.
Since the beginning of this year, I have seen physical healing in myself and others. I have watched and heard God speak things that no other person could have known. I have witnessed the miraculous and the impossible over the course of my relationship with God and it has been incredible, and jaw-dropping, and faith-building.
But what about the times when the miraculous isn’t happening?
What about the situations where we pray for healing but healing doesn’t come? What about the times when we know He is telling us to pray and believe that the impossible is possible with Him but then He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we asked and it seems like He doesn’t even answer at all?
What then? Where is God’s miraculous power on those days?
I don’t have the answers.
I could give you the typical Christian responses: “God’s timing is perfect,” “God works all things for good,” “Just because you can’t see Him doesn’t mean He isn’t there,” and my personal (least) favorite, “Maybe God is testing your faith.”
First of all, God doesn’t test us. He might allow the enemy to test us sometimes through different means but God Himself is not in the business of making bad things happen or pushing you to your breaking point. Read the book of Job before you try to disagree.
Second of all, somewhere along the way, Christians decided that they need to have all the answers. They have to have the perfect bow to tie on every single uncertainty and disappointment that comes up in someone’s life. At some point, Christians decided that it is their job to prove God’s goodness when in reality He is perfectly capable and much better at doing that on His own.
He proves His goodness through us, yes, but as Bob Goff so perfectly says, “It is not my job to be God’s lawyer.”
I think this position of defense on God’s behalf comes from an uncertainty in ourselves. If you feel you have to defend God’s character or convince others that God is good and faithful, I think deep down you have the same fears that they are brave enough to voice.
If your automatic response to any hard situation where it seems like God isn’t showing up is a cliche response and a desire to smooth things over, then maybe you too are questioning why He doesn’t seem to be taking notice or answering like He says He will.
I think this because I’ve experienced it.
Throughout my adolescence, I always believed that it was a sin to question where God was in a situation or wonder if He really was Who everyone said He was. And then life happened.
I spent the first five years after my parents died giving cliche, Christian answers to anyone who asked how I was and, most of all, to myself.
Don’t get me wrong, God was so faithful to me during those years. He did show up and take care of me and work all things for good. He really, truly did and still is to this day. But in the midst of gut-wrenching grief, saying the words isn’t enough. There were also days where things felt dark and hopeless, there were days when I wondered how a God Who is so loving could also let something so terrible happen. There were days when I questioned whether what I’ve always heard and believed about God is really true. And there still are.
There are days when I’m caught up in the goodness and faithfulness of God and I’m humbled that He has entrusted me with such an important story, and there are other days when I am hurt and angry and disappointed that this has to be my story. That I will never again have a normal holiday or life event because every single one will make me miss my parents.
There are days where I see God’s hand and timing in everything and then there are days when I wonder why a God Who is so sovereign and all-knowing couldn’t stop a simple little accident and save me from this pain.
There are days when I can say that God is good and faithful and mean it with everything in me, and there are days when I question if everything I’ve always heard and believed has been a bunch of fairy tales and lies. Maybe the things I’ve experienced have just been how my brain learned to cope with grief. Maybe I don’t really believe this thing I’ve based my life on after all.
A lot of that can be contributed to the enemy of course. He loves to attack our minds and challenge our faith. But a lot of that is also just human nature. It isn’t natural for us to believe something that we can’t see with our own eyes and touch with our own hands. I’m pretty sure I would have been standing right next to Thomas asking to see the nail scars if Jesus walked through the wall of my house after I had watched Him die and be buried.
That’s why Jesus said to Thomas in John 20:29, ” …Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Can we just calm down on the hate toward Thomas, please?
First, Jesus didn’t rebuke Thomas for doubting. Jesus didn’t say it was wrong for Thomas to doubt, He just said that those who believed in His resurrection without seeing Him were blessed.
Second, if you back up to verses 19 & 20 it says, ” …the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord (emphasis mine).”
Jesus had already given the exact same proof to the rest of the disciples that Thomas later asked for.
LETS STOP SINGLING THOMAS OUT.
I say all that to say this, contrary to what those of us who grew up in the church tend to believe, disappointment isn’t a sin and doubt does not mean that you never beileved in God at all. I know they have been presented to us that way, but God has been really helping me see that it just isn’t true.
Jesus, God made flesh, the One Who never sinned, disappointed people constantly. He disappointed the religious leaders who thought He was blasphemous and disrespectful. He disappointed those who tested Him to see if they could prove that He wasn’t really the Son of God. And He disappointed those Who believed in and followed Him. He couldn’t be everywhere at once (well, He could but you know what I mean) so sometimes He had to disappoint some in order to follow the will of the Father.
Disappointment can’t be a sin because Jesus did it.
And I also think that means being disappointed isn’t a sin either because Jesus would never cause anyone to sin.
So sometimes you might feel a little disappointed with God and the way things are going. And I think that’s okay.
Doubt also isn’t called sin in the Bible. Doubt and unbelief are spoken of as holdbacks to and distraction from faith in God but they aren’t called sin.
Jude 1:22 says, “Be merciful to those who doubt.” That includes yourself.
I’m not trying to make a case for doubt or disappointment to be good, I’m just saying those feelings are normal and human. You aren’t buying a one-way ticket to Hell for feeling those things or declaring yourself an unbeliever that has never known God when you admit that you’re disappointed with the way things are happening or doubting that He really is good.
Just don’t live there forever, let God bring you back out and let Him defend and prove His character to you.
I have felt disappointed in God more than once. I have doubted His goodness and His Love for me time and time again. And if I let myself stay there too long I can feel it begin to turn into something really unhealthy and bitter. But if I will talk to God about what I’m feeling, actually say to Him, “I’m really disappointed in You,” or, “I’m not sure I believe what you say,” He. Can. Handle. That.
He already knows what you’re feeling. No matter how much you think you are, you aren’t hiding anything from God. And when you choose to communicate with Him about what you’re feeling it not only takes that weight off your shoulders it also opens the door for Him to show you just how good He truly is.
When You confess Your doubts He can take you into deeper faith than you have ever known. When you confess your disappointment He can help you see that He is incapable of disappointing His children if we will let Him show us His perspective.
Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes doubt happens. Always God is good.
That’s not wrapping it in pretty, it’s just the Truth of Who God is. And it’s okay if you don’t believe that yet. Take some time getting to know God personally.
And if you’re worried that He can’t use someone who experiences doubt, just go read the book of Psalms and remember that God Himself called David a man after God’s own heart.