I wrote back in January on “really good times to praise God” and I think this is exactly one of them. When you’re disappointed with Him. Because if we are real about things, we can confess that there are times it seems our deep love for God conflicts with our judgment of how He appears to be operating in our lives. We love and know and trust God as Father…but perhaps His particular methods are not okay with us in these days? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I am the only one whose prayers are a lot like this poem by Madeleine L’Engle:
I hate you.
Let me back up.
No, I do not hate God. But I believe we face so many lies about WHO God is and how He operates, because our little brains just can’t wrap around Infinite Love in the Person of Jesus. We want a God we can understand, define, put parameters around, and make sense of. For many of us, this isn’t an intentional set of falsehoods we’ve been fed, it’s just a lot of little ways we’ve crafted a god of our own making. You know, the god who heals on command, brings our spouse to us when we hoped, gives us children on our timeline, and provides for all our needs/wants in a timely manner (read: by our definition). We don’t intend to believe this or set out to make it our method of operations, but many of us live with the idea that if we just _____________, then God will “behave” as we want Him to.
I’m writing this to confirm your suspicions: God does not behave how we want Him to, really quite often. And when He does not, we are apt to become frustrated or disappointed in Him. But here’s a thing: we are not entitled to a particular response from Him. He is a good and just God, so we can believe that what He is doing (or not doing) in our lives is good and appropriate. Tim Keller tweeted awhile back: “If we knew what God knows, we would ask for exactly what He gives.” This has been with me all summer and I believe it’s finally starting to sink in.
I believe God is giving me and my family what is exactly right.
I believe God is doing good things, even when I cannot see them or define them.
I believe God’s faithfulness is uncontested and His word infallible and therefore He is trustworthy.
Last weekend, the mister and I planned a little family adventure getaway. In as spontaneous a move as I could muster, we pricelined a hotel and planned a day full of outdoor activities to wear out our little Beastie who is, as perhaps I have mentioned, a wee bit spunky. The first evening was delightful, with playgrounds and chicken nuggets and snuggling on hotel beds, which Beastie thought were amazing. “Okay, seepy now. Night night time. Aseep now.” she would say, pinching her eyes shut and burrowing into the pillows. It was the cutest.
But the rest of the weekend? Did not go as planned. In. the. slightest. Thunderstorms kept us awake much of the night and forced us to recalculate our Saturday plans. By 10am, the beastie was crying and begging to go home. ON OUR FAMILY ADVENTURE WEEKEND. Neither of the adults present were acting much better, so we ended up packing and driving back home in the rain, less than 24hrs after we headed out. But, as he is wont to do, my husband began asking, “What does God want to show us here? Surely He is purposeful in even this misadventure. God, what are you saying?”
A few days later, a dear friend sat at my counter during her lunch break, describing the heaviness she feels for a family member. She described a visit with the family over the weekend and her tears and prayers for this person. And she said she’s begun asking God to show her what He wants to do, but that if He does not -He is still good and she is confident He is still at work. So she prays. And she pleads. And she confesses over and again, “God I know you are good and that you are working.”
These people who are dear to me are confirming another suspicion of mine – that when I cannot see how and when and what God is doing – it is always good to confess what I know is true. When God appears quiet or too slow or as if He is just not coming through – I can still praise His name. When I am disappointed with my Father God, I can tell Him. Whatever it is, I can tell Him. The psalmist wrote, “Because He has inclined His ear to me, I shall call upon Him as long as I live” [Ps116:2].
I can do that.
However I feel about all the things, I can call upon Him as long as I have breath.