What to do when God lets you down

Jacqui Hazel

We finally had the date chosen, venue booked, and musicians rehearsing. My plans for a wedding and marriage were coming together rapidly, and I looked forward to this new stage of life.

Then my world turned upside down. A health crisis kept me in and out of the hospital for three days, after which my husband-to-be silently abandoned me. Everything about my life up to that point — my future, my job, my living situation — changed overnight, without explanation. I was hurt by my fiancé, but I was mad at God.

Sometimes our plans change abruptly or our circumstances are less than ideal. It might be for any number of reasons, but what happens when it seems like God has let us down? When God doesn’t meet our expectations and we start to doubt God, His goodness, or His love? Here are three ways you can readjust the few things in your control when it feels like God has let you down:

1. Change Your Perspective

At times, I try to define God by my circumstances. When my life doesn’t seem to be going right, it can feel like God doesn’t love me or hear my prayers, but that doesn’t line up with what the Bible says. Instead, I need to change my perspective: I need to let the truths in the Bible shape how I see my situation and God.

I need to let the truths in the Bible shape how I see my situation and God.

The Bible says, even in the midst of devastating circumstances, God “plans to prosper you and not to harm you” and “to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). The God who is planning good things for my life is not allowing unnecessary pain and heartache; God is using this situation for good and for a purpose in my life because He knows what is best for me (Romans 8:28).

2. Talk with Your People, and Even More with God

When it seems like nothing's going right, who is the first person you tell — even if you’re upset with God? You might go first to your friends or family, and there’s power in leaning on your community of people. God desires a relationship with you and wants you to crave a relationship with Him, too. But sometimes we forget to even talk to Jesus. Sometimes God will allow difficult circumstances in our lives simply to draw our attention back to Himself.

In 1 Samuel 1, we meet a woman named Hannah who couldn’t have children. In Hannah’s culture, not being able to have children was considered shameful, and although Hannah’s husband loved her, he was also married to another woman who could have children for him to carry on his family name and legacy. This second wife, Peninnah, was terrible to Hannah. Peninnah would mock and ridicule Hannah for not being able to bear children, and it made Hannah’s life miserable. When Hannah went to the place of worship that year with her husband, she poured out her soul to God (1 Samuel 1:15). At her lowest moment, Hannah talked to God about her struggle. Psalm 62:8 tells us to “pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”

Today, when we’re struggling with understanding our circumstances or what God is doing, we can still talk to the One who hears our prayers (Psalm 66:19).

3. Hold Your Plans Loosely

We often focus only on circumstances or people when we feel God let us down. God allows our plans to change because He has something better. Regardless of the what or why of our circumstances, whatever we wanted to happen isn’t happening because it’s not God’s best. Joseph didn’t plan to spend time in jail, but without that event he wouldn’t have saved the entire country — and his family (Genesis 39:20-23, Genesis 47:13-27). Daniel didn’t love spending time in the lion’s den, but without that event the king wouldn’t have seen the power of God and proclaimed Him as Lord (Daniel 6:1-28).

When God doesn’t meet our expectations, it forces us to take a closer look at what we’re valuing the most. It causes you to ask, “Am I more concerned with God’s plans or my own?”

We won’t always see what God is doing, and we’ll continue to wonder about the plans and details, but they’re only part of a bigger picture. God is most concerned about changing our hearts and having a relationship with us, through the upsets and the unexpected.

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