Phillip Yancey, in his book Disappointment with God, raises these three questions: Is God Unfair? Is God Silent? Is God Hidden?
In our walk as people of faith, circumstances often present themselves and cause us to complain — Why me, God? Why have you done this? Why are you allowing this to happen. Why? Why? Why? You are so unfair!
Then we have…I don’t know what to do, Lord. Help me! Speak to me. Come on, talk to me. Tell me which way to go, what to do, how to respond. When I need you, why are you so silent?! Why? Why? Why?
I am out here in the desert, Lord, where have you gone? Just when I need you the most, you disappear. I can’t seem to get back to my prayer life, my conversations with you, Lord. Why are you hidden from me. Why? Why? Why?
Any of that sound familiar? Can you relate to those times when your/our relationship with God seems cloudy and distant? When it feels like we are on our own and that God has moved away. He has become silent to us, is hidden from us, and in our human mind, He is unfair!
As I read Disappointment, it occurred to me that there is another way to look at these questions. Maybe they apply to me, to you. Lets see… Remember that picture of footprints in the sand? Two pair for a distance, then only one pair. Where had you gone, Lord, why did you leave me? Son, I didn’t leave you, that was when I was carrying you!
For me, there is the truth. Those times when we feel God is unfair, maybe we are forgetting Jesus’ promise to be with us to the end of the age, even through difficult patches and hard times. That is part and parcel of what we believe. But, maybe we were prepared for our version of “hard times” but not the one or ones that actually hit us, or hit loved ones. Maybe the difficulties of those times caused us to question our faith and caused us to wonder if Jesus was really with us!
From experience and from my own belief, the bumps in the road of our lives only serve to underscore the power of God. A power that can lift us up despite problems of health or great disappointments in our lives. Jesus’ promise surrounds us and reassures us, and encourages us to carry on through those problems.
I can’t believe that God is unfair, silent or hidden. I believe that God is in charge and He loves us and cares for us. There does seem to be a disparity between the love of God and the bad things that occasionally pop up in our lives. Maybe it is that disparity that turns the disappointment upside down. Maybe it is we who are unfair toward God. Maybe we are silent and have failed to engage God in conversations. Possibly we have created our own desert in our attempt to hide from God.
In the story of Jonah, we have a man who did not like what God was asking of him and simply refused to do it. He fled from God (hid from God?) on a boat, but God brought him back with a storm and a big fish. Then Jonah completed the task God had assigned. I take away from this story that God, through the circumstances and difficulties of our lives, brings us back to Him, regardless how adamant we are against Him.
How we deal with disappointments and difficulties is not lost on others. Living our faith and believing in the promises is part of living out the Great Commission. We “teach” through our actions, through how we live our lives.
Well, for me this is unfinished business. Sometimes I feel I spend too little time in conversation with God. Sometimes I find my prayer has turned into a series of requests for family members and friends who are hurting. But I do know that I try to live my life as God would have me, even if I fall short sometimes.
One thing I know is that God’s love is deeper, broader and wider than anything we could imagine. With that love comes forgiveness. With forgiveness comes freedom and that frees us to love others! Is that so hard to understand?
Peace my friends.
For what its worth.