How to React When You Don’t Get What You Want from God

Do you struggle with disappointment in God when things don’t go your way?

I was jealous and angry. I wanted to be happy for my friend. She had been through so much recently and she needed breaks, needed something to go her way. I wanted to be happy for her, but I also wanted to be happy for myself too. 

I wanted to be the one to have good news to share with other people. I wanted a victory and an end to the pain and suffering that defined my life for the past two and three years. I wanted to just be happy for my friend, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it should have been me. 

When was it going to be my turn? I realized that I was disappointed and I had no idea how to handle my disappointment in God as a Christian. So I want to talk to you about that today.

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What are you supposed to do when somebody else, especially somebody close to you, gets the blessing that you’ve been praying for for so long? How can you rejoice with your friends and with your brothers and sisters in Christ over their freedom, their success, and their praise reports? 

How can you do that, even when you’re still struggling? I’m going to be really honest with you about why I think we struggle with disappointment. For me, I think deep down, the real thing that I was struggling with was feeling like I’d been passed over. 

That somehow my prayers weren’t heard or they were being ignored. “Lord, like I’m hurting, I’m in pain and I just want this to end. Don’t you see me? How much longer am I going to have to wait and sit here and watch you do things for everybody else? Don’t you love me, don’t you care about me?” 

I know that this is true for so many of us. It is so hard when you’re going through things that are taking a long time. Difficult things, that are just so painful, and we’re human and so we want that to end because it doesn’t feel good. It can be tempting to be jealous, angry, frustrated, and all those things when we look around and it seems like God is doing things for everybody else except for us. 

I can share that there was a happy ending to the story that I shared at the beginning. I was able to truly be happy for my friend, but I had to take some time to do some soul-searching and do some mindset work because my mind and my heart weren’t in the right place. 

I wasn’t focusing on the right thing. Eventually, I worked through all that and I was able to rejoice with her and be happy with her and celebrate with her. That story does have a happy ending. 

Disappointment in God is NOT a Sin

First, I want to start by saying disappointment is not a sin. Your feelings and your emotions in and of themselves are not sinful. It’s not sinful to be disappointed because things aren’t going the way you want them to. That’s normal! 

God’s not looking at you and planning to punish you because you feel disappointed. It’s just an emotion and it’s usually tied to a thought or belief. I shared before that my thought was that I’d been passed over. I felt disappointed because I believed God had passed me over and I needed to deal with that thought and emotion right. 

I had to take all of that stuff, reign it in to find the actual truth, and then renew my mind until I believed that truth. Then that emotion also changed and I no longer felt disappointed. I was able to feel just gratitude and happiness for my friend and you can do the same thing. 

Why You Feel Disappointment in God

I want to start by talking a little bit about why we feel disappointed. Philip Yancey has a book, Disappointment with God,  where he talks about three questions: is God unfair, is God silent, and is God hidden? I haven’t read the book yet, but I thought those were powerful questions to think about and to ask yourself when you’re feeling disappointed. 

When I look back at my experience and the thought that I was having, I believed two of these.  I thought God was being unfair and I thought he was being silent. That he was picking my friend over me and that he just wasn’t talking to me or doing anything for me because he didn’t care. 

These are things that you have to think of when you want to get down to the why. Why are you experiencing the feeling that you are feeling? Because when you know the why, then you begin to change and make different choices. 

Instead of feeling disappointed, I chose to feel happy and have gratitude for my friend. But we can’t do that if we don’t understand why we’re feeling that way in the first place. 

Is God Unfair?

Is God unfair? Does God pick one person over the other? Is God unjust? Scripture tells us that no, he’s not. He is a just God. Yes, it is so tempting to think of God as unfair but you don’t know everything. You don’t have the full picture or know all the pieces to the puzzle. 

At that moment when I was pouting because my friend got some good news and I got terrible news, her situation ended up being a lot harder and a lot longer than mine was. God knew that that was exactly what she needed. She needed to have that blessing because she had a long way to go. 

She needed to have some encouragement, something go her way because it was going to take a long time for the rest of her process to end. My stuff wrapped up shortly after I was having my little pity party.

Is God Silent?

This is a question that I hear so often: is God just not talking to me? He’s just not answering my prayers. I don’t hear his voice. This can be so hard when you feel this way because you feel ignored, abandoned, and passed over. 

You have to continue to remind yourself that God does speak and as his child you can hear his voice. If you are not hearing his voice and if you feel like God is being silent, it might be a few things.

It could be that he’s already spoken to you and given you an answer. You’re asking him a question that he already answered, and he is like I only have this one thing that you need right now. 

God doesn’t tell you something else or give you something new until you listen and take action on whatever the thing was that he told you the first time. That would be overwhelming and often you have to do the first thing for the next thing to even be possible or make any sense. 

Sometimes your ears aren’t tuned properly to the voice of God. You have already made up your mind about what you want to see and what he’s going to say. When you don’t get that, you think he’s silent and he’s not talking to you. You believe that he doesn’t hear your prayers and doesn’t care. 

Learn to check yourself and ask if God is really being silent or not. If he is, I’m confident that there’s a reason for that and it just might be a season where you’ve got to wait on God. I think more often than not, it’s not that God is silent it’s that we aren’t listening in a way that’s going to keep our ears and our hearts sensitive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. 

Is God Hidden?

The third question is is God hidden? Is God just keeping himself from you? Is he distancing himself from you? Is he doing that to you in your pain? I don’t think God is hiding. He’s not keeping himself from you, he is with you. 

He is with you everywhere, all the time, no matter where you are, no matter what’s going on. He’s always there. Think of Jesus, Emmanuel means God is with us. God is an ever-present help. He never leaves you and never forsakes you, not even when things are hard and it feels that way.

The point that I’m trying to get here is, the best you can, I want you to identify why you feel disappointed. Because it’s probably not disappointment that you’re feeling. It might be that you’re feeling abandoned, ignored, or forgotten. 

How to Deal with Your Disappointment in God

Now let’s look at how to deal with your disappointment. You know you feel disappointed because of whatever the reason is but now what? There are a couple of things that you can do that can help you process your disappointment, work through those emotions, deal with those thoughts/beliefs, and find some peace. 

Remember God is Sovereign

The first thing that I want to remind you is that God is sovereign. When you are feeling disappointed, remind yourself that God is sovereign. He’s always in control, no matter what is going on. When things don’t go the way you want them to it’s easy to think God’s holding out. 

I thought that too. That was my belief, God was holding out on me. He could do it, I knew he could. He was choosing not to because he’s just mean. Now, that’s not the truth that’s a lie. Knowing that God is sovereign, in control of all things, and is the source of everything that you need, should be a source of comfort. 

He knows exactly what you need and he knows how to get it to you. If he hasn’t sent it to you yet, it’s either because you’re not ready for it or you don’t need it. What you think you need isn’t exactly what you need or there are just other things going on and you have no way of knowing the full picture. 

You should be able to find comfort and trust in the knowledge that God is sovereign, that he is in control, and that nothing is going on that he’s not aware of. If you can learn to wait and be patient, things will be made clearer as time goes on. 

I know that’s easier said than done because I’ve been there. If you’re struggling with that, take my word for it. It is better to know that God is in control. 

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Take Your Feelings to God

The second thing is to take your feelings to God. I’m really big around here on feeling your feels whenever you’re feeling them. Sit down with them, get comfortable with them, wrestle with them, but feel them. You have to learn how to manage and process your feelings. 

They are telling you something. Your feelings are giving you information about something that’s going on in your heart, in your mind, in your situation, and in your environment. Once you’re feeling your feelings, take them to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you.” 

Take everything that you’re feeling to God. This is what I did. I sat down and got really honest with him. I told him I was disappointed looking at my friend with all this stuff going on. I asked him, “What about me? What gives right?” I took my hurt, confusion, frustration, and all my questions to God. 

This is what he wants you to do. He wants to hear from you, he wants to know everything that you’re feeling, everything that you’re thinking, and everything that you want. Whatever you’re mad about or depressed about, he wants it all. He can take it all. 

Remember, he’s a sovereign God so he already knows. You’re not telling God for his sake because he already knows. You’re telling him for your sake because you can then take that burden that you’re carrying around and set it at the foot of the cross or before the throne and leave it there. 

Get it all out of your head, get it all out of your heart, and give it to God and leave it there because once you give that over to God you’re not spending energy thinking about it you are going to feel better. Just that simple act of giving it over to God is going to help you feel better. 

The way that I do that is with journaling. I grab my journal, sit down, and dump all my feelings and thoughts onto the pages of my journal. I do that because once it’s out of my head and on the page I can deal with it. I can see what those emotions and thoughts are and I can do something about them. 

That’s also why I tend to not want to journal them out, because once it’s in black and white it’s not going anywhere. If you have that same struggle, get over that and just find whatever way you can talk it out, write it out, sing it out, run it out, whatever you have to do. So you can get it out of your head, off your heart, and give it to God so that you can begin to work on those things. 

Practice Gratitude

Number three is to begin to practice gratitude. I know, have an attitude of gratitude it’s kind of like a little buzzword in the Christian community, but it’s so true. Listen, during a hard season of my life, a friend of mine invited me to be part of a gratitude email accountability group. 

Every day we would email the group a list of things that we were grateful for that day. When I first got started I was skeptical because I was not into this gratitude thing. I didn’t know how this was going to be helpful, and it was a little overwhelming. 

Sometimes I felt like I didn’t have anything to be grateful for. I felt like I was grasping at straws saying I’m grateful for my kid and that I have shoes and food. But as I continued the practice and the discipline of looking for the good things in my life, looking for the things that blessed me, that encouraged me, slowly my mind and my attitude began to shift. 

Instead of focusing on all the ick that was going on, I was able to focus on the good things, and eventually, I was able to train my mind to focus more on God and his goodness than on the actual pain and hard stuff that was going on in my life. That alone also gave me so much peace and so much comfort to keep going. 

Keep Praying

The final thing is to just keep praying. I feel like we don’t pray enough. Keep praying. Pray all the time without ceasing. Pray when things are going well, pray when things aren’t going well. Pray when you’re happy, pray when you’re sad. 

Just keep talking to God, keep going to Him, keep listening for His voice, keep sharing your life, sharing your journey with Him, and listening to what it is that he wants to speak to you and to share with your heart. 

Being connected to God is the only way to have that peace that passes all understanding that he promises you. So that when things are hard and don’t make sense, you are not taken over by your emotions and negative thinking patterns. You can walk through your hard times with peace. You can feel the presence of God. You can rest and you can have joy.

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