Disappointed with God

My friend David serves as a lay counselor to thousands of people. I call him the world’s best shallow psychologist, but lately he’s gotten too deep to maintain that moniker. He’s spent countless hours preparing couples for marriage. In his premarital sessions, he frequently lays out the following tough love truths to the bride to be. David says that, somewhere in the first few years, a wife will wake up one day with the following three thoughts:

  1. You’re not the man I thought you were.
  2. You’re not meeting my needs.
  3. Marriage is difficult.

He’s not down on marriage, and he’s not just being negative. He’s simply trying to adjust a wife’s expectations and normalize the feelings most young wives (and some husbands) face when they feel disappointed in their marriage. Most couples go into a marriage with unrealistic expectations of uninterrupted eternal bliss, and when they hit the rugged reality of marriage, they are tempted to bail. Then the doubts begin to creep in. “I wonder why are we having all this conflict?” “Maybe he’s not my soul mate?”  “What if I married the wrong guy?” 

I wish Dave had been in my life years ago to do my pre-theological counseling. He could have coached me about my “personal relationship” with God before I woke up with similar brutal thoughts:

  1. You’re not the God I thought you were.
  2. You’re not meeting my needs.
  3. Faith is difficult.

I meet people all the time who feel disappointed with God. They read all the wonderful promises in the Bible, then look at their not-so-wonderful life and start to ask some very searching questions:

What went wrong? I thought God told me I would be married by now, but I’m not. I thought he would protect my family from serious illness, but he has not. I simply asked God to keep my marriage together, but he did not. All I wanted was a better job, and now I am unemployed. I prayed over my children for years, and none of them follow God now. If God really loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life, why did he allow all of this incredible pain and disappointment into my life?

He promised we could move mountains with prayer. He promised that if I trained up my children when they were young, they wouldn’t depart from him. He promised that, if I delighted myself in Him, he would give me the desires of my heart. He promised to never leave me or forsake me. He promised to protect my loved ones from harm’s way. He promised. He promised. He said he was a loving Father, but I don’t feel loved. Quite the opposite.

For years, I refused to address God in my pain, doubt, and disappointment. I just suppressed it or tried to hide it from God and others. I allowed the doubt and disappointment to dwell inside my head, and that produced a lot of anxiety, fear, and shame.  It was like allowing a form of mental cancer to rent space in my mind.

Can God Handle Your Pain and Doubt?

The proper treatment here is to pour it all out before God, a trusted friend, or a therapist. God can handle your pain, frustration, and doubt. Like Job, like Thomas, like Dan, the best cure is to doubt out loud. Pour out your raw emotions to the One who knows you and loves you right where you are. And perhaps when you wake up once more with those three tough realities …

  1. You’re not the God I thought you were.
  2. You’re not meeting my needs.
  3. Faith is difficult.

… you will realize that it’s all a part of having an authentic relationship with God and those doubts can actually be strengthening your faith. Disappointment produces doubt that can lead to a stronger faith—if you’re willing to lean in to your doubts.


Except from Room for Doubt: How Uncertainty Can Deepen Your Faith.

Ben Young