Philip Yancey author of "Disappointment with God," sought out to interview individuals who felt God had betrayed them; to help him in understanding this topic first hand. In his research he met a man named Douglas whose life reflected that of a modern-day Job. Douglas was a model of faithfulness. After years of training in psychotherapy, he turned down a lucrative career in favor of starting an urban ministry. One day his wife discovered a lump in her breast. Two years after the mastectomy the cancer had spread to her lungs. Douglas took over many of the household and parental duties as his wife battled cancer and chemotherapy.
One night in the midst of this crisis, Douglas was driving down a city street with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter and was hit head on by a drunk driver. Douglas=s wife was shaken up but not hurt; his daughter received a broken arm and severe facial cuts. Douglas received the worst injury, a massive blow to the head.
After the accident, Douglas suffered from severe headaches that caused him to be disoriented and forgetful. Worse yet, the accident permanently affected his vision, his left eye wandered and refused to focus. Douglas learned to cope with his disability but it was difficult for this avid reader to have to stop after each page of a book because of the labor it took.
Over breakfast Yancey met with Douglas. He noted what great concentration Douglas needed to look through his thick glasses just find the food on his plate. He found it hard to look directly at him, for his wandering eye distracted him so much. Yancey asked Douglas, "Could you tell me about your own disappointment with God? And also, what you have learned that might help someone else going through a difficult time?"
Douglas was silent for a time, then he said, "To tell you the truth Philip, I didn't feel any disappointment with God. The reason is this. I learned, first through my wife's illness and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life. I’m no stoic. I am as upset about what happened to me as anyone could be. I feel free to curse the unfairness of life and to vent all my grief and anger. But I believe God feels the same way about that accident -- grieved and angry. I don't blame him for what happened. I have learned to see beyond the physical reality in this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, 'Life should be fair because God is fair.' But God is not life, and if I confuse God with the physical reality of life, by expecting constant good health, for example, then I set myself up for a crashing disappointment. God's existence, even his love for me, does not depend on my good health. We must develop our relationship with God, apart from our life circumstances. We can learn to trust God despite all the unfairness of life."
Then Douglas challenged Yancey by saying, "Go home and read again the story of Jesus. Was life 'fair' to him? For me, the cross demolished for all time the basic assumption that life will be fair."
Is God unfair? The answer depends on how closely we identify God with life.
I challenge you to spend some time thinking about those times you felt disappointed by God and see how many of them were really issues of being disappointed by life.
Then, take those disappointments to God and learn that God is bigger than our disappointments and times of suffering.
~ God bless, Dan