Disappointment in God
By DANNY MINTON
In the movie “Rudy,” Daniel Ruettiger is found in the chapel praying when a priest sees him and sits down to talk with him. Daniel is trying to get into Notre Dame and inquires of the priest if he has done everything he could do. The priest responds, “Son, in all my years of theological studies, I have come to the harsh conclusion that there are only two truths I know for sure. There is a God. And I’m not Him.”
Throughout life, we all face disappointment. We try everything we can to achieve a desired goal or change our lives in a particular way, finding ourselves with a disappointing letdown. Sometimes we pray continuously only to face rejection and wonder why God doesn’t seem to be listening to us. After all, we live a good life, we “go to church,” we treat people kindly, and don’t follow the ways of the world. Yet, disappointment continues to slap us in the face.
I look back on our early married years, my wife working and my trying to find that first full-time ministry position. My first interview was with a group of elders who had just let a man go who had significant financial issues. Their conversation with me was more about my financial position than any desires or skills. I wanted to tell them that young married college students don’t have financial situations except for survival. Anyway, I didn’t get the job, and of course, we were disappointed.
The second interview was better, accepting an invitation to visit the congregation. The congregation had just lost their current, highly sought-after youth minister to a larger congregation, so there would be big shoes to fill. The decision came down to two of us. I, once again, lost out. Disappointment set in, and my wife and I were both discouraged. In the meantime, with nothing else to look into, I continued to teach Bible at Abilene Christian High School, working on my master’s degree, while Kathy worked for Herald of Truth.
Looking back, I wonder if my disappointment was more with God than those doing the choosing? My wife had sacrificed to get me through school. We had plans to take the world for Jesus. Now we were having a tough time just getting started. When you’re young, wanting to get on with life, it’s hard being patient. But, I’d soon find out that my disappointment in God would disappear with His wisdom.
The following year the students would give me the honor of “Teacher of the Year.” The following summer, I worked as a part-time youth minister for a local congregation when a phone call came that changed our lives. A baby had been born, and we were selected as the adoptive parents. Then one evening, out of the blue, I received a call from the second congregation with which we’d interviewed. Their first choice didn’t stay, and they offered us the position. We were off and running, my wife, our son, God, and me on our new journey.
Along my years of ministry, there would be many more disappointments. I still face them from time to time, sometimes with work, sometimes with family, and other times with people. However, one thing I’ve learned over the years is never to be disappointed with God. If I make a wrong choice, it’s never God’s fault if it doesn’t work out. As human beings, we can only do the best we can. Sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we’re wrong. In the end, God is still in control. And that’s what matters.
Sometimes in my disappointment, I asked myself, “Why am I disappointed?” Sure, these were our choices. But again, they were not our choices for the position. They were our choices to lay before God for God to decide. Much like the apostles placed two names before God in Acts to replace Judas. I often wonder if the one not chosen was disappointed or if he just went on serving.
My disappointment was the disappointment that God didn’t think my desire was the right fit. I’d pray over and over, seeking his will. After all, I did ask Him to let us know, didn’t I? Unfortunately, my prayers may have been more seeking a stamp of approval instead of guidance in direction.
I often go back to two, out of many people, in the Bible who teach a basic lesson about putting things in the hand of God and then moving on. First was a woman named Hannah, who laid her request before God for a son. After hearing her appeal, Eli comforted her, assuring her that God had listened to her prayer. Having put her trust in God, Hannah went on with her life. The second was David, who fasted and pleaded with God for the life of his son. The child died. David then got up, cleaned up, and went to comfort Bathsheba. God had not granted his request.
The human part of us may be disappointed, but in reality, when we’ve done what we could and put it into God’s hands, shouldn’t we be thanking God for helping us and say, “Thank you, Lord, we’ll just try again.”
God had plans for both Hannah and David. God answered Hannah’s request with a child named Samuel. David’s next child was also a son; his name was Solomon. God, in His wisdom, had grand plans for them both.
In a world full of disappointments, I have to remind myself that God is much wiser than I am, so when I lay things before Him, I have to trust His judgment, no matter what I or anyone else thinks about it. While my view in life is limited to today, God sees the whole picture. Our attitude should be that of David as he wrote in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
In the first interview from what I heard, the congregation went through several men, looking for a fit. The second interview taught me a message from God I’ll never forget. If hired the first time, I would have been following one of the most successful, highly regarded youth ministers of the time. I feel sorry for the man hired ahead of me since he faced comparison daily and ended up being a disappointment to the congregation. When hired, I was compared to the one before me, giving me time to develop. I could do no wrong. In the meantime, God was with us every step of the way, whether we paid attention or not. He always has been and always will be.
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Danny, I found this piece especially moving. My husband and I faced similar situations during our marriage. One in particular left him without a ministerial position for over a year, but as you did, we later understood why the disappointment worked out as a blessing. Thank you for sharing.