Thirty-three years ago my wife and I were expecting our first child. We heard a teaching that reasoned as Christians we were new creations in Christ and we were not subject to any of the curses that Adam and Eve suffered, especially the one Eve knew all too well, “In pain you shall bring forth children.” My wife “believed” for a painless delivery. Such was not the case. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t painless. God’s failure to meet her expectations damaged her faith and trust for several years. Not long after, I heard several teachings on believers being “King’s Kids.” It all made sense to me, so I “believed” for a new car. I kept my request modest and instead of “believing” for a new Mercedes, I settled for a new Dodge minivan. I didn’t wait for God to provide the funds for the new van, I just “believed.” When I say “believed” I mean “financed” a new minivan. I struggled to make the payments on that van. I had to sell it at a substantial loss and I bought a beat-up minivan to replace it. I was extremely disappointed. Why didn’t God provide the money to make my car payments? After all, I am a “King’s Kid,” am I not? That incident rattled my faith.
Have you had an experience where your prayer was not answered in the way you expected, or not at all? Has God disappointed you? Have you felt faith-shaking disillusionment? Many people have left the Christian faith altogether because they feel God has let them down.
I’ve slowly learned there is a huge difference between faith and presumption (even though they appear very similar to the hopeful soul). When we want something bad enough, we can easily pull a scripture out of context, and then expect God to back up it up. Many of our presumptions are based on faulty teachings from bible teachers who twist the scriptures for their own gain by tickling the ears of their audiences and telling them what they want to hear, and frankly some are just figments of our imaginations. We exclaim, “But He promised!” Did He? Is that what the Bible actually says? Are you reading that verse in the context of what the rest of the Bible says, and in the light of God’s character? For example, the Bible never once called us “Kings Kids.” We are God’s children, and joint heirs with Jesus the king. But we are not “King’s Kids.” Actually, we have been declared kings (see Rev. 1:6 & 5:10).
God’s ways are much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). We often don’t understand His ways. We struggle with questions like, “Why hasn’t God answered my prayer? Why didn’t He fulfill His promise to me? Why did He let this happen to me? Why is God silent when I need Him the most?” We can’t see the whole picture like God can. I’ll never forget watching Corrie Ten Boom on the 700 Club in the early 70’s. She was doing needlepoint while Pat Robertson was interviewing her. She was getting up in years and I thought maybe she was starting to show signs of dementia. Then she showed the viewing audience the underside of her work. It was nothing but messy strands of yarn tied in knots. She said, “That’s how your life may look to you. Maybe you can’t understand how anything good could come out of the mess you’re in. Nothing seems to make sense. ” She slowly flipped the needlepoint over to reveal a beautiful, colorful picture. She explained, “That’s how God sees our life, from a different perspective. Those same messy yarns have been used to create a design of beauty. By faith we can believe that our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that will surpass them all. We usually can’t see the purpose in our trials at the time, but just knowing there’s a flip-side can give us hope enough to carry on. It has for me many times.”
We can’t see the whole picture like God can. If you’ve never experienced God not meeting all your expectations, you will. How you react is your choice. You can choose to take offence, or you can “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding” (Proverb 3:5). Unanswered prayed could be the result of presumption and not having a clear understanding of the promises of God we find in scripture. In any case, the Christian life boils down to trusting the Lord, even when we don’t understand all the “whys” and “why not’s.”