Three years back, I leaned against a small table as evening shadows silently spread. Eyes downcast, the woman facing me worked to find the bare-hearted words to convey her pain. Her voice caught on the anguish, controlled only through the regimen of daily practice.
I’ve sought God. I’ve followed His ways. I’ve read my Bible, gone to church, served, given, and ministered. And yet… this.
She had been raised with the conviction that God honors those who honor Him. That when we choose to seek Him, nothing held back, He gives us the desires of our hearts. And she had believed. Day after day, year after year, until the believing had begun to slap her in the face and she could no longer hold on to that innocent, guileless trust.
And at some point, her faith had begun to chill. She had stopped believing. Not in God, but in His promises.
In His goodness.
And her heart had grown numb.
Because the waiting, it had grown too long. And the foolishness of trust had hit her square until her white-hot pain could no longer be suppressed.
The foolishness of trust.
So I waited across that small table, quiet and unsure. The silence grew large and I pressed into Jesus, crying out in the empty space for divine intervention, wisdom.
How strongly my soul felt knit to hers. Because when you’re groping in the shadows, longing for the day to break clear and triumphant but twilight just stretches deep and all light seems to flicker in the cold, it marks you. And you don’t forget.
You don’t forget what it feels like to be disappointed with God.
Just a few days ago now, I met a second woman across another table, this time at the gala celebration of my goddaughter’s wedding. Surrounded by the joy of two lives becoming one, my husband and I had the opportunity to catch up with this acquaintance whom we had missed for years. And she asked bold-faced because she understood and she knew.
What have you done about the pain?
The pain of being disappointed with God.
And I was thrown back to it all. The hard, the messy, the years when nothing had seemed right and everything was upside down, and how could this really be my life? The time when I had felt beyond lost and no one, NO ONE could make it right. Because I had felt trapped in a labyrinth that seemingly had no exit, and the thread to guide me had been so trampled that I could barely distinguish it from the dirt beneath my feet.
I have given everything, Lord. Given it all to follow you.
Where are you?
As I sat amidst the revelry and worked to craft an answer to her question, I pictured the eyes of that first young woman, prime in her life, wondering how to deal with the raw disappointment. And I remembered my response to her frank challenge.
There are no formulas with God.
He is sovereign, wild, and perfect in all His ways. He is always good. And I must wrestle to choose to lay down my offense upon the altar of surrender and simply KNOW His goodness.
In that moment, I recalled again the question of the Baptizer to his cousin, Jesus. John was languishing in Herod’s prison; death was imminent. And he had to know.
Are you the One?
Because I can’t see straight for the pain of knowing this is how it might all end. Knowing that hope has been deferred and there may be no way to usher it back. Back when you descended into the river and the Spirit rested like a dove, I had been so certain. But now… my hope rots in this cell along with my satchel of unanswered dreams.
Jesus had responded.
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. Luke 7:22-23”
I am at work, John. The plans of the Father will be accomplished. Not only am I the Redeemer, but I AM that I AM. Trust me, even when trust seems shattered, for I am the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.
So I answered her question. Honest and simple, I spoke the plain fact that the laying down can be oh, so hard. The trusting, even harder. And sometimes, though the heart is healed, it can still be tender to the touch in those places where that holy scalpel of right sanctification has run deep.
But God is good. All the time.
The foolishness of trust.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25”