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Where Is God When We Face Disappointment?

Disappointment is rough at any age, but for our kids, it can often feel more like devastation. How do we help them hold fast to their faith when all their plans fall apart? First, we must remember how to trust in his plans for ourselves.She’d been planning for weeks. No, months, ever since the two girls met last summer. My daughter and my college roommate’s daughter—besties overnight. Across 200 miles they spent the past school year writing and FaceTiming each other, scheming for a chance to reunite.

And finally! It was here. Or, it was supposed to be. My daughter’s sweet friend was packed and ready to head to our house for four days of sleepover fun. But she came down with a fever the night before.

And my daughter burst into tears.

Disappointment is tough at any age. Yet for a tween who had her heart set on painting nails and baking cupcakes and watching goofy movies with a very special friend she rarely gets to see in person, well—disappointment feels more like devastation. And I felt her pain in my own heart.

As an intentional Christian parent, I want to guide my children to hold fast to their faith when plans fall apart. I tell them God knew this would happen, He has a better idea, we can trust Him—all the right motherly things to say. Yet even I struggle to wonder why God allowed the heartache.

I mean really, Lord. A fever? Today?

If you’ve ever been disappointed (and who hasn’t), then you know how crushing it feels to see a hope, plan or promise fall apart. And it’s so tempting to view God—the Sovereign in charge of everything—as the one doing the crushing.

But hold on a sec. Have we forgotten? God is the Orchestrator of the entire universe, yes, but He’s personal and intimate, too.

He is our Father.

Our parent.

We get that. As parents, you and I know firsthand how a child’s heartache becomes our own heartache. What if God isn’t the unfeeling perpetrator after all, but rather the loving, protective dad—who is aching right along with his crestfallen child?

Sometimes we need to disappoint our kids because we know what they’re asking for isn’t good for them, or because a “no” will serve them better in the long run. We don’t enjoy it, we hurt because they hurt, but in the end we know thwarting their plans is in the best interest of everyone involved.

I think it’s the same with God.

Remember Lazarus? Jesus had the power to save him from death, yet He chose not to. He allowed Mary and Martha to experience the tragic disappointment of losing their brother—why? So He could raise him back to life, inspiring countless people to believe Jesus was sent by God.

Clearly Jesus had a good reason for doing what He did. But in the midst of it, he felt the family’s pain.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.” (John 11:33–35, emphasis added)

If you’re swimming through disappointment today, remember how much God loves you. His decisions are always wise and good. And although He knows He can’t grant you that thing you so deeply you wanted, maybe He, too, is weeping over your tears.

My daughter did end up having that sleepover visit, albeit a few days delayed. But even before it was rescheduled, she settled into the idea that somehow God had a better plan. And you know what? We might never know what it was.

But we trust Him. Do you?

Becky Kopitzke


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  1. As Christians, we are advised that there is no disappointment found in God or in our destiny in Heaven. We are each sustained in the love and care of God, not merely by our choice, but by our created nature. When we suffer disappointment, we do so not because we have been failed by God but because we lack the vision of Him that results from intimate communion with Him. We may expect many things of God but few genuinely expect that. But it is only when the vision of God is present our heart of hearts that the “why” question is answered for us. Instead of responding to an inconvenience or crisis in the self centered manner to which we are consigned without that vision, the act and response of pleasing God becomes foremost and entirely sufficient for us because our love for Him and the satisfaction of His desires alone become the only purpose of our lives. It is when we assume this selfless destitution of our own will as demonstrated every day of His life by our Savior, that our true satisfaction and spiritual prosperity arise. Few Christians expect this need or have read the life of Jesus as He relates to us and to the Father carefully through enough to understand this and yet it is there and in black and white for all who wish to see and then make themselves in doing so consummately vulnerable to God. If our surrender of ourselves is genuine, absolute, and sustained as that of Jesus and that of the first Christians was, abundant life with God and eminent satisfaction will be the result no matter what God allows to befall us in our lives. Few Christians are even aware that nearly all of the difficulties that God allow us are designed to drive us toward that simple destitution of will and of spirit described above, simply to encourage our consummate vulnerability to Him. As mightily as we misunderstand the crucial need for absolute vulnerability to God, He understands how our entire destiny of life with Him, now and in Heaven, depends upon it.

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