I read FB and I see people put up prayer requests or praises. In either case, someone will tend to add a comment such as:
–Amen! God never fails!
–He never disappoints!
–God is always faithful!
`.Are these statements true?
- God is always faithful. I think it could be said to be true. Perhaps one could say, “God in relation to His children, commits Himself fully to that relationship.” That is a comforting thought.
- God never fails. This one is ambiguous because it is not clear the perspective. If one says, “God never fails in that which He purposes to succeed in” I suppose it could be said to be true. If one is taking the human perspective regarding what constitutes failure, one could argue that God fails all the time. We often want God to do something and then God fails to do it.
- He never disappoints. The wording suggests a personal perspective so it seems safe to say that this is undeniably false. God often disappoints, thankfully.
It is not bad that God fails and disappoints from our perspective. Why?
- It shows we care. The only way God never fails or disappoints is if one sets one’s standards regarding God so low that this is not a possibility. Perhaps an atheist or a practical atheist (one who believes in God but for whom God has no practical relevance) cannot be disappointed by God. But those of us for whom God is relevant, disappointment should happen… a lot.
- We need a relationship with our Creator, not a magic lamp that grants us our every wish. We don’t do well as human beings when our every desire is met. A parent who does not disappoint his child at times is likely to produce an extremely spoiled kid. We grow through learning what we need, and what simply feeds our greed.
- They can produce good things in us. A lot of the Psalms were written by composers who saw God as failing them. These laments were the result… a cry out to God and a return to praise. Read Psalm 44 sometime.
Of course, some can find disappointment or see failure on the part of God and reject God. But that is part of the problem of people repeating catechistic “happy” statements that are not true. These statements don’t prepare people for the reality of relationship. It is like telling newlyweds, “Real love lasts forever,” or drawing from a Tanya Tucker song, “If it don’t come easy, you better let it go.” Well, real love CAN last forever, but if it is not nurtured, it will die, and nothing truly worthwhile is all that easy. If one tells people that God never disappoints, and then someone is disappointed by God, how will that person handle it? Philip Yancey has earned a considerable amount of money (I assume) in writing about God in real terms, including his book, “Disappointment With God.” Frankly, he is simply saying what we know… but try to block out of our minds… as if a relationship with God is more real if it is based on falsity.
But people shouldn’t have to go to one writer to explain the reality of divine relationship. We all should help people grow in their relationship with God. If we do, we are in good company. Job, Habakkuk, the Psalmists, and the author of Ecclesiastes all willingly dealt with these issues, willing to recognize that God does disappoint. Even Jesus, on the cross, expressed disappointment with the Father, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I know some would say that Jesus was just fulfilling Scripture… but if the Scripture was indeed prophetic, then it was prophetic of His disappointment, I believe, with the Father.
Missions is about bringing people to God… helping them grow in a real relationship with God. We help them when we help them understand the God who is, not the God of happy-sounding mantras.