Christians Get Disappointed Too

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

This week has been a whirlwind of disappointments. Our landlord reprimanded me on Mother’s Day, on Monday we discovered my husband was passed over for a promotion, we went to look at a home yet had to leave a police report about attempted fraud, all alongside the typical toddler tantrums, and other life stressors. The real kicker is that I’m desperately missing one of the closest people in my support circle, my grandma who died just over a month ago. 

This isn’t a self-pity party, I’ve processed through it, and there were still pleasant moments during those days. My girlies treated me to ice cream, I got to have some excellent discussions with my children, and being around my in-laws always gives me peace. That being said, because of the events on Sunday and Monday, I struggled. And I’m glad I did.

You see, some people mistakenly believe, and I’ve fallen into that trap, that if you’re a Christian and obeying the Lord, His blessing will pour down, making your living situation comfortable and blowing open doorways of potential in life. Sometimes, God does move like that. He did part the Red Sea, He empowered David to smite Goliath, He rolled away the stone and walked out of that grave. But there are also plenty of Scriptural examples of when God withheld his hand and let His children suffer. 

Take the account of Joseph, for example. It’s found in Genesis 37-50. Joseph was the son of Jacob, aka Israel, and, at the time, the youngest. Because of who his mother was, he was his dad’s favorite child. In a foolish moment, Joe, full of excitement, told his brothers about a special dream God had given him. In this dream, they bowed down to him. The brothers were livid, so they tossed him in a dry cistern, sold him to some traveling slave merchants, and told his father he was killed by wild animals. 

Joseph had received a dream, a vision from God, telling him that one day he would rule over his brothers and mother and father, yet here he was a slave in Egypt under one of Pharaoh’s right-hand men. This was the farthest place he could be to fulfilling God’s vision for his life, or so he thought. 

Still, Joseph climbs his way up and becomes the head of the household under Potiphar, his master. With Joseph there, Potiphar didn’t have to worry about anything except what delicacy to eat that day. Joseph reached a peak, where maybe he could see his family being forced to bow to him if they became slaves in the same house. But Potiphar’s wife got the hots for Joe, but Joe said no. This wife, practically a princess, isn’t used to being told no and tries to rape the man. Joseph flees, leaving behind his jacket. In a temper tantrum that would shame my two-year-old, she accuses Joseph of trying to rape her and has him jailed. Indefinitely. 

So here Joseph is having done everything right in the Lord’s eyes, stuck in a prison with criminals. He had been so close to reaching God’s calling on his life, to become a ruler. With Potiphar being Pharoah’s Captain of the Guard, he might have been able to glimpse the man the Egyptians revered as their god-king. Yet the rug was pulled out from under his feet yet again.

Still, in 39:21 it says, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” In fact, like in Potiphar’s house, Joseph rose the ranks in the prison, and as a prisoner himself, practically did the warden’s job for him, keeping the other prisoners in line. 

Now, If I were Joseph, I would be happy with the responsibility, but I would question God. What about that dream? Are you going to throw my brothers in this prison for me to rule over them here? Did I lose Your calling over my life by doing something wrong? And I would beg God to give me wisdom to find a way forward, and the assurance that He was indeed still on my side. I’m sure God would’ve sent Him encouragement.

Joseph remained faithful to God. Therefore when two men from Pharaoh’s house entered the jail, he was able to help them interpret their dreams. Pharaoh’s taste-tester had a dream that he would get his job back and get to return to the good life. Pharaoh’s baker, on the other hand, was going to be executed. Joseph begged the taste-tester to not forget him when he went before Pharaoh– he wanted out of the prison. Well, in three days, just as Joseph had interpreted, the baker was killed and the taste-tester reinstated. 

Three years later, Pharaoh had a dream, and it was then that the taste-tester remembered Joseph. Because of the taste-tester’s testimony, Pharaoh called Joseph out of prison to interpret his dream. God granted Joseph understanding, and he did so, warning Pharaoh of the horrible famine that was going to happen in seven years. Because Joseph was able to interpret the dream through God-given wisdom, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt. Finally, Joseph was a ruler having people bow to him, but still not his own family. 

Seven years of abundance followed before the famine hit. Because Joseph was diligent, he made sure Egypt had enough provisions to make it through. In Canaan, the famine was also bad, so Jacob’s family came to Egypt to buy food, bowing down to Joseph. When his brothers realized that it was Joseph before them, they were rightly terrified. 

But in Genesis 50:20, Joseph gives his response, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Through the many disappointments Joseph faced, he was able to learn this truth: God’s plans are ultimately good. There were plenty of times when Joseph’s life didn’t feel good in the moment, but because he stayed faithful to God, God used him to save an entire nation from starvation. 

Throughout his life, Joseph had God’s blessing. God was always with Joseph. This didn’t mean that times were nice to Joseph. Honestly, for half of his life, the opposite could be said. But God sustained Joseph through the hunger pangs of slavery, He comforted him through the loneliness of the prison cell, and exalted Joseph from his oppression in His time. Those were the shapes God’s blessing took: sustenance, comfort, and the strength to trust God’s timing. Joseph overcame the disappointment in his circumstances by holding fast to his belief that God’s plan was ultimately good.

For me, it took me a day to process through the disappointments of this past week. I took the opportunity to let the Holy Spirit search me, find areas of my heart that doubted Him, and asked Him to come in and change those. By doing so, disappointments become exciting. It doesn’t mean they don’t hurt, but we have more than just the hope that we’ll get through the other side. We have a promise that God will use our pain for our benefit. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in the praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 God’s hand is with me and for me. He still loves me. That is my strength to face today.

“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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