I think one of the most challenging things I face in ministry is disappointment. In my three years as staff and my four years as a student involved, I’ve seen my fair share of disappointing things. Sometimes the disappointment is so great that I feel like I have lost enough faith in God, disqualifying me from continuing on in ministry. Working in Quebec when there’s always so much more to do, it can seem like the progress we’re making is never enough and that can be disappointing. As a woman in ministry — when there are so many women to work with and only three other full-time staff in the province, that list of things to do appears infinite and impossible.
Last August our Quebec staff had a huddle to take some time to reflect and plan for the year. One of our colleagues shared a talk on disappointment that really spoke to me. He pointed out that what is dangerous is when our disappointment turns to bitterness. There are times when we misread what God is planning to do and when he doesn’t do what we want or think He should do, we become disappointment and that can turn to bitterness towards God or ministry.
When I’m facing disappointment, I need to reflect on something important: Did God promise to do this thing? If so, I can have confidence that He will be faithful to it even if it doesn’t look like I think it should. If He didn’t promise this thing, I have no right to be bitter and angry about God not doing something He never said He would in the first place.
So where does praying in faith come in? What do we do when we beseech God for a real present and urgent need and we’re met with silence or a clear ‘no’?
I’m not entirely sure how to answer this. All I know is that we need to keep trusting God. He’s always right and “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11) and “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Rom 8:28). This is a real opportunity for us to hold God to these words, to trust Him and wait in expectation for Him to move, however He so desires. It’s also a good opportunity for us to get real with Him and ourselves about what we want and why.
Imagine how the apostles felt when Jesus had been entombed. They may have felt abandoned by God, without a leader, having forgotten what Jesus spoke about being raised three days later.
Every time I have felt disappointed and even cried because I felt disappointed God has always reminded me of His character somehow. Sometimes God is silent in these things, but He is never far away. His eyes and ears are never closed to us. We can always trust in Him, even if it doesn’t make sense.
Right now, I’m writing this more for me than anyone.