(It’s been a year since I wrote about this heartbreaking experience, and the story’s changed quite a bit. Read the one-year update at the bottom of this post…)
Life is full of beginnings and endings. Lately, there have been too many endings, not enough beginnings, and I’m feeling severely disappointed with God.
I’ve been a Christian for decades. I’m constantly searching, finding, learning, and growing. Day-by-day, I am being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I feel I know God better today than any other time in my life.
I still don’t understand God at all.
Although I feel disappointment with God, I’m trying to remember that there’s more to what we’re all going through than meets the eye…Tweet
Why I’m Feeling Disappointed with God
God is more of a mystery than ever.
I’m struggling to see His purposes in so much of what’s happened in the last year – a year of too many endings.
“Some people lose their faith because of a sharp sense of disappointment with God. They expect God to act a certain way, and God “lets them down.” Others may not lose their faith, but they too experience a form of disappointment. They believe God will intervene, they pray for a miracle, and their prayers come back unanswered.”Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey, Copyright 1988, Zondervan Publishing House, p.18
I haven’t lost my faith, but I’m certainly disappointed.
Did you ever hear about how I prayed for a pet, and God said, “Yes?”
The story, in a nutshell, goes like this:
- We’d never had a pet before.
- My children wanted a pet.
- My husband didn’t want a pet.
- I prayed that God would send us a pet through my husband.
- A stray kitten soon walked into my husband’s shop and crawled onto his lap.
- We kept the kitten and named her Stevie.
Of course, the actual events of how Stevie walked into our lives were a lot more dramatic than that. (You can read the whole “Stevie” story here.)
There is no doubt in my mind that God answered my prayers and sent Stevie to us.
Stevie was a beautiful beginning.
Stevie opened a new chapter in our lives (that of being pet owners). She arrived during what felt like a season of blessing, a season of beginnings:
Oh, the joy of receiving a positive answer to prayer!
What a delight for my children to receive their first pet.
What thankfulness we all felt for God’s having arranged this special blessing for us.
Seasons of Beginnings and Seasons of Endings
The Christian life is an ever-changing phenomenon. It is made up of seasons – seasons that feel like polar opposites, yet somehow work together. These seasons build, one atop the other, to form the faith and character of the Christian.
Seasons of Beginnings
There have been seasons in my faith walk in which I have been full of energy, joy, and absolute abandon to whatever God would send my way. With full trust and confidence, I have been sure of the goodness of God.
These seasons feel like new beginnings. They are full of life and hope and promise.
They feel like the start of something big, something productive, something worthy of the effort required to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.
Seasons of Endings
Then there are the seasons of darkness, despair, doubt, and frustration.
These seasons feel like endings. They are full of disappointment and confusion.
I question God’s methods. I wonder why he hides himself and his plans from me. My heart feels betrayed, even while my mind knows he’s faithful.
The End of a Beginning
Exactly one year after she’d wandered into our lives, Stevie died.
She’d left the yard to go hunting, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. Stevie was wild at heart and would sometimes disappear for up to four days at a time.
After five days, when she still hadn’t returned, we grew worried.
After six, we began to pray.
After seven days, I began to lose hope.
“Please, Jesus, send her home. Help her find her way home,” I prayed.
On the eighth day after Stevie went missing, my husband found her lying in the back ditch. It was apparent that she was sick. Yet, somehow, she had managed to drag herself back home. She was starved, dehydrated, and couldn’t walk straight. She purred weakly when my husband picked her up.
I didn’t understand why God would allow our gift to suffer this way, but at least he had answered our prayers. She’d made it home. Plus, cats are resilient, so I hoped that after we got her some help, she’d be fine.
We brought Stevie to the vet. He guessed that she may have gotten into some sort of poison during her hunting adventure around town. He hoped she would perk up overnight with the help of IV fluids.
Stevie died at the animal hospital the next day.
Our gift was dead.
We mourned. It was unthinkable that she was gone.
I had believed that Stevie would be impervious to death because God had sent her to us. I thought she would stay in our family for years, entertaining us with her antics and causing us to love her more and more.
I was wrong.
Stevie was a beginning. Then, she was an ending.
Why? Why would God go through all that trouble to open our hearts in such an extraordinary way, and then let the gift die so soon after we’d received it?
I was so very disappointed. I’m still heartbroken.
Life is Unfair
We’re not the only family who’s had a beginning turn into an ending:
- What of the soon-to-be mother whose joy is demolished with a miscarriage?
- What of the teenage son who finally feels he’s bonding with his father, only to lose him to cancer?
- What of the husband’s promotion at a company that goes bankrupt shortly thereafter?
- What of the newly purchased home that burns down?
- Or a season of joy that’s quickly followed by a terrifying diagnosis?
- Or the young couple who discover that they can never have children of their own?
Where is God?
What purpose is there in these endings? Why must we struggle through the darkness of these seasons? Who can bear the pain?
Then the LORD said to Job,
“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”Job 40:1
My experience has been that God often doesn’t seem to think it necessary to let me in on those answers.
“No, Lord, I don’t have the answers to these questions. Only you do.”
My children have asked when we’ll get another kitten. I don’t know what to tell them. I don’t know if we’ll ever have another pet.
The ending is still too raw for me to seek a new beginning.
The whole world has suffered many endings this last year. It feels like a year of disappointment and sadness, a season of endings. And I’m so very, very tired of endings.
A wise woman told me that through these challenges, we are growing stronger. I don’t like it, but I believe her.
So, although I feel disappointment with God, I’m trying to remember that there’s more to what we’re all going through than meets the eye:
“Saints become saints by somehow hanging on to the stubborn conviction that things are not as they appear, and that the unseen world is as solid and trustworthy as the visible world around them. God deserves trust, even when it looks like the world is caving in.”Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey, Copyright 1988, Zondervan Publishing House, p.244
I’m holding to the promise that “those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Without clear answers, I continue to “wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5)
Hope is on the Horizon
No matter what I’ve been through or what’s to come, I know this:
In my darkest valley of terror,
God has never abandoned me.
During storms of doubt,
God has always been faithful.
In the midst of my deepest pain,
the God of all comfort has comforted me.
What about you? Who are you putting your hope in? Who will you trust?
“Disappointment With God” and Freedom
But freedom doesn’t always come packaged in a pretty story.
Today, freedom looks like this:
Freedom is knowing that I can express my disappointment with God, and he can handle it. I’m free to be authentic with him.
Freedom is knowing that I don’t have to understand God in order to trust him. I’m free from demanding my own way.
Freedom is knowing that there’s hope on the horizon, that I will once again “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). I’m free in the hope of Jesus Christ.
A Prayer For Hope
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of Glory,
give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him,
enlightening the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us.
Lord, Lord, we need your hope.
Amen.(taken from Ephesians 1:16-18)
Update: One Year Later…
After grieving for several months over the loss of our dear cat Stevie, our family decided we were ready to try again. In the spring of 2021, we picked up Meg:
Meg has been a comfort and a healing blessing to our family.
She’s cuddly, playful, gentle, patient, obedient, and self-sufficient (which means she poops outside, not in the house!). We love Meg even more than we hoped we would.
I see now that we never would have experienced the joy of Meg if we hadn’t first received the gift of Stevie. Although we loved Stevie very much, Meg’s temperament has been a better fit for our family. I’m thankful to God that all things work together for our good. Sometimes, even through our pets.