WHEN THINGS DON’T PAN OUT: WE STILL BELIEVE

DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT AND DISILLUSIONMENT

We all like to have things our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having things go our way.

As you know full well by now,  things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes, the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

The Biblical characters were very much like you and me. They were, in fact, totally human. Just like you and me. Life didn’t always pan out for them too. How they responded and dealt with the mess they weren’t expecting  can be a compass, or a lighthouse, to get us back on track with the Lord. So, from beyond the grave, the dead speak and show us how to continue being faithful when it looks as if God isn’t.

WE STILL BELIEVE

My sister-in-law came down with a really aggressive form of cancer a couple of years ago. She started getting really sick in November 2012 and by January 2013 she was in a real fight for her life. Things didn’t look good for her and my first inclination was to let her go to be with the Lord. But Doreen was believing for life. She had a promise of healing from God’s Word. And she wouldn’t have any talk or thought of dying. She was gonna get healed of cancer!

Well, if she was believing for healing and life, I felt we owed  it to her as a family to believe with her. So we took up arms against the devil, lifted up the shield of faith, and wielded the sword of the Spirit. We warred and sang our way from one battle to another. And God worked miracle after miracle! We were stunned! We maybe shouldn’t have been. But we saw God’s power working miraculously in response to the faith and prayers of God’s people. We were so humbled by God’s love and mercies towards Doreen and us. So encouraged by the fact that we were seeing God’s Word and power and faithfulness in action. So grateful that faith and God’s promises do work!

After another successful day of warfare and miracles, we went to bed Saturday night confident and hopeful that Doreen was on the mend. She was able to swallow again. That meant she would eat and drink more, get strength, gain weight, and mend back to health—just as God promised and just as we believed.

I was stunned when I woke up early Sunday morning with the news that Doreen had only a few hours to live. How can that be? She was doing good when we left her late Saturday night.

Then I remembered a dream that the Lord had given me that very early Sunday morning. Doreen’s husband, Jeremy, and I were in a boxing ring, the devil was on the canvas, and Jesus the Referee lifted up both of our arms and said, This fight’s over. This fight’s been won. Ominously, when I woke up Sunday morning, there was this dread, this knowing, that God was taking Doreen home. Sure enough, when the text message came, it was like a text message from God: It’s time to quit believing for healing and life. I want her home with Me. It’s time to let her go. This fight’s over. This fight’s been won.

Won? By dying? I couldn’t understand it. I still don’t. I’m hurt and grieved. But, I’m a believer and I still sing God’s high praises because He’s true and faithful no matter what happens.

I’m talking about what we do when things don’t pan out the way we thought or believed they would. A friend of mine was sharing her story with me recently. She’d been contemplating adopting another young child. She’d prayed about it and, one day, God gave her the go-ahead and told her the child would be a blessing to her every day of her life.

Life didn’t pan out for her the way God said it would—at least, not in the way she understood God’s words. The child was a handful and a trial in many ways. A lot of heartaches, disappointments, and tears. It contradicted what God told her. For years and years she didn’t understand.

Then one day recently, after years of enduring a reality that contradicted God’s promise, God showed her what He meant by the promise. The blessing that the child would be every day was not so much the child, but the work that the Lord would do in her through the child. The blessing was God’s transforming work in her.

In her case, when life doesn’t pan out the way you thought or believed it would, the problem is not because God didn’t keep His promise. He keeps it. He always does. The problem is our understanding of what He promised. We think we understand. But really we don’t. So what do we do when life doesn’t pan out? Whether we understand God’s ways or not, we keep believing God. God’s Word is true no matter what.

What I went through with Doreen and what my friend went through with her child reminds me of an incident in King David’s life. The King wanted Joab his General to number all the men of war. Joab, however, didn’t think that this was a good idea. Unless God told you to count, you didn’t count. That’s because you’d start trusting in your numbers instead of God to win your battles. Anyways, Joab knew this and advised the King not to do the census. The King, however, prevailed and Joab reluctantly did as he was ordered.

When the numbers came in, David felt guilty about what he’d done. But it was too late. God had His punishment in store for David. The King could choose one of three punishments: (1) three years of famine; or (2) three months on the run from his enemies; or (3) three days of the plague (2 Samuel 24).

Well, David knew the Lord to be a merciful God. With a merciful God, what could possibly go wrong? Sure, some people would get sick. Some might even die. But it isn’t going to be a catastrophe because God’s merciful. He isn’t going to let that happen! So David thought.

But the plague didn’t pan out the way David thought it would. In three days’ time, no thanks to David, seventy-thousand people were dead! Seventy-thousand! This clearly wasn’t what David was expecting! When David grasped the awful reality that confronted him, he, I’m sure bitterly, cried out to God and said, I’m the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? Let Your anger fall against me and my family (2 Samuel 24:17).

David was trusting in God’s mercies to spare him and the nation from the worst. God is merciful. But His idea of mercy doesn’t always line up with ours. Seventy thousand dead isn’t our idea of mercy. Evidently, for God, it was.

Grief-stricken and stunned beyond belief, David built an altar and worshipped God (2 Samuel 24:25). In doing so, he shows us what we do even when it seems as if God failed us or punished us disproportionately to our sin: we still believe, worship, and follow the Lord. No matter what comes. No matter He does or allows. No matter what’s happened. We still believe.

We don’t always understand. Sometimes we think we do. In either case, when life doesn’t go the way we thought or believed it would—the way God promised it would—it’s not because God led us wrong. Sometimes He lets us know why. Sometimes He doesn’t. No matter what, we still believe and worship God. Maybe, like Satan and Job, God just wants to show us off to the devil and prove to that liar that God’s people will still love Him, trust Him, serve Him, and praise Him, no matter what misfortunes come their way.

6 Comments

  1. Pamela Cramer-Ozse said,

    April 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    YES AMEN… This message about still believing even though things don’t work out like even God promised they would is so true!!! Thanks, Bro Gaylord for this encouraging message. Your ending statement in this message has deep spiritual wisdom in it. I will keep this statement in my memory often!!!

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      April 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM

      You’re welcome, sis. God gave it and I’m immensely glad that it helped you. Remember, as difficult as the Christian walk sometimes is, God is always with you to help you, even when you don’t feel His presence and it’s looked like He’s forsaken you and hates you. God will never quit loving you and He’ll always be your help in time of trouble.

  2. leahwimberly said,

    April 15, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Very very encouraging! After all,where would we turn and who would we run to if we gave up after the worse possible outcome.Thank you for sharing this!

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      April 15, 2013 at 8:31 PM

      You’re welcome, Leah. Sooo glad it helped you. It’s so easy to cuss God out and turn our back on Him when the bad times come. But that’s a sure recipe for disaster; it only makes things worse. It may be difficult to walk with the God at times, but it’s unimaginably even more difficult to walk thru life without Him. May you always feel His presence, love, and help.

  3. Brenda said,

    April 24, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Dear Gaylord ~ I think this teaching has a deeper spiritual dimension to it
    than I have understood, even being a Christian for so many years. No matter
    what, we trust Him. We trust His mercy and His justice as He deals with us
    as His children. I am so glad I belong to Jesus! Brenda

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      April 25, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      Yes, Brenda. How blest we are to belong to Christ! What were we that He would love us and choose us? I love to understand everything and not being able to do that can be quite distressing. This is where faith comes in. Faith is a rest. It’s difficult and challenging at times to believe. It’s a growth. A choice. Praise the Lord for the grace to choose to believe Him in spite of all the things that just don’t make sense.


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