What does the Bible say about being disappointed with God?
As Christians, it’s okay to be disappointed with circumstances. We can even be disappointed with things that God allows. But we should never be disappointed with God himself because then we are saying our will is better than God’s will.
But how can you stop this? It’s incredibly easy to be disappointed with God because we know he has the power to do whatever he wants, so when he doesn’t do what we want, we can easily feel justified to blame him.
By studying Luke 10:38-42, we can discover 4 reasons we keep getting disappointed with God and 4 ways to change this.
1. Because You Have Attached Your Personal Expectations to Your Faithful Actions (Luke 10:38)
Luke 10:38-42 describes a time when Jesus came to the house of Martha, but Martha got upset with her sister Mary because she was just sitting there listening to Jesus while Martha was busy serving everyone. Jesus then lovingly rebuked Martha and tells her that Mary has chosen the better thing and it won’t be taken away from her.
So was Martha wrong for serving? No. Martha went wrong by serving and then expecting Jesus to respond to her serving in a certain way that she felt best.
She did right by being faithful in good works for Jesus (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:17), but she then assumed her good works would result in a certain outcome. She assumed Jesus would see all her serving and how her sister was just sitting; and then she assumed Jesus would commend her for serving and rebuke her sister for sitting at his feet. This is what led to her disappointment.
It wasn’t wrong for her to serve. That was actually a sign of faith. It was wrong for her to expect her faith to get a certain result that she personally felt was best. We do this all the time:
- We faithfully abstain from premarital sex, and we expect this faithful action to result in us finding a spouse faster.
- We faithfully tithe our money, and we expect this to result in us getting a promotion at work.
- We faithfully help someone, and we expect God to exult us in the eyes of others.
But when our acts of faith are attached to our own personal expectations about the results, that’s when we get disappointed. We must faithfully serve, but then we must submit the results to God.
2. Because Other People Don’t Do What You Expect (Luke 10:39)
Martha was actually a woman of great faith. Of all the households in that town, Martha seems to be the first to offer Jesus lodging and hospitality (Luke 10:38). And since it was rare for a woman to own her own house during that time period, it’s not a stretch to assume that it could have been more financially difficult for her to host Jesus and his disciples than it would have been for other local households.
But then she imagined how it would all turn out. She imagined Jesus and his disciples relaxing and talking while her and her sister served, showing themselves to be excellent, hardworking women. But then Mary messed up Martha’s vision (Luke 10:39). This led to disappointment.
Most of the disappointment in our lives is often a result of us attaching our expectations onto other people’s behavior. We get frustrated when other people are not doing what we think they should be doing. We take steps of faith, and we imagine how everyone else will respond in a certain way:
- “I’m going to make a YouTube video exulting Jesus, and millions of people are going to watch it and love it.”
- “I’m going to help my family member in need, and they are going to take my help and change their life.”
- “I’m going to share my feelings with that person I like, and they are going to open their heart to me and tell me how much they like me too.”
These steps of faith are good, but it’s unwise to attach our happiness to other people’s responses. We can’t control how other people will respond. When we need other people to act a certain way for us to be happy, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
To avoid disappointment, we must focus more on our behavior and less on the behavior of others. God calls us to act in faith. He does not call us to try to control how other people respond to our acts of faith.
We have to give people the freedom we ourselves want from people (Luke 6:31).
3. Because You Are Trying to Control God (Luke 10:40)
The biggest danger in getting too attached to our expectations rather than submitting to God is that we will end up trying to control God, and this always ends up in disappointment. God has the final say, not us.
Notice that Martha didn’t just tell Mary to help her, she actually told Jesus what to do, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40).
Wow! I imagine when Martha went to bed that night, she laid awake embarrassed by her attempt to control Jesus. I picture her thinking to herself, “I can’t believe I did that. My controlling nature got so out of control, I actually tried to tell the Son of God what to do, like I’m his master rather than him being my master.”
This is what always happens when we get too attached to the certain outcome of our faith. We need to have faith, but in wisdom and maturity, we need to accept that our faith won’t always result in the one specific outcome that we hope for. Many people pray in faith:
- “I have faith, therefore I know God will remove the cancer.”
- “I have faith, therefore I know God will give me a spouse this year.”
- “I have faith, therefore I know my child will come back to Jesus.”
A more mature faith, however, would say:
- “I have faith, and I know God can cure the cancer. But even if he doesn’t, I will be joyful in him.”
- “I have faith, and I know God can give me a spouse this year. But even if he doesn’t, I know God’s love is more than enough for me.”
- “I have faith, and I know God can call by child back to Jesus. But even if he doesn’t, I will remain faithful and in love with Jesus myself.”
Faith is always right, but it’s not right to think we know what God will always do with our faith. Notice how Jesus himself prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).
Yes, have faith and believe that God can do anything. Ask him for exactly what you want. But then submit to God no matter what he decides. Otherwise you will always be disappointed.
4. Because God Is Disciplining You and Refocusing You Onto Himself (Luke 10:41-42)
Martha had great faith, but she was prone to getting attached to only one result of that faith. This happened to her again in John 11. Her brother Lazarus grew sick, and in faith she called for Jesus to come and heal him (John 11:3). But Jesus didn’t do what she expected. Instead of coming and preventing his death like Martha asked, he let Lazarus die (John 11:6). After he died, then Jesus came. John 11:21-27 states:
Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’”
Here again we see that Martha actually had amazing faith. She believed in Jesus very much. Her issue was not a lack of faith. Her issue was that she believed she knew how God would use her faith. She was getting overly focused on her expectations for the one, narrow result of her faith that she felt was best. Sometimes God has something better in mind. Martha wanted Jesus to prevent Lazarus from dying. Jesus wanted to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Likewise, when we go back to Luke 10 and we see how disappointed Martha was with how her evening of hosting was turning out, Jesus lovingly corrected her and refocused her. She had faith, but she was getting to controlling and too attached to what she wanted.
Like Martha, we too can get overly distracted with good things we want from God (Luke 10:40) and in the process lose focus of the best thing God is trying to always offer us – himself (Luke 10:41-42).
So one reason God lets us get disappointed is because he is lovingly disciplining us and refocusing us onto himself. For only when we are satisfied in him can we truly be happy.
Related Article: Feeling Abandoned By God?