The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

When God Disillusions You


AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Life with God is filled with unexpected twists and shocking surprises.  These things are fun in movies, but when they pop up in our personal lives, they often seem quite miserable.  When loved ones die without warning, when ministries suddenly fall apart, when promises aren’t fulfilled and callings are blocked, we end up feeling confused, lost, and devastated.

How do we resolve the feelings of betrayal, insecurity, and doubt that arise when God starts pitching curve balls at us?  If He gives you a burning desire to preach in a country only to block all of your attempts to get there (Paul), at what point do you admit that maybe you’re mishearing Him?  When should we wait for God to pull a Red Sea miracle, and when should we set His promises aside as utterly meaningless?  How long do you still believe that God is going to give you a child when you and your wife are so obviously barren (Abraham & Sarah)?  How long do you keep hoping that God will take you to a Promised Land as you wander aimlessly through the desert (Joshua & Caleb)?  How do you accept a Messiah who so bitterly fails all of your expectations (Judas & John the Baptist)?  How do you continue on as a prophet for God after He speaks empty threats and promises through your lips (Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Jonah, Zephaniah, Amos, Joel, Ezekiel)?  How long do you keep preparing for an epic flood when there isn’t a single cloud in the sky (Noah)?  How do you keep trusting in God’s protection when you are locked in public stocks and drowning in a cistern (Jeremiah)?  How long do you cling to a vision of power and glory when you are wasting away in jail for something you didn’t even do (Joseph)?  How long do you keep trying to believe that God loves you when He has so clearly turned against you (Job)?  How do you keep standing for God when He is slaughtering all of His faithful servants in front of you (Elijah & John)?  How do you dare to act on commands that so clearly defy God’s will (Ezekiel, Peter, Hosea, Isaiah)?  The Bible presents us with many disturbing examples of God disillusioning people.  It emphasizes the importance of staying faithful, but it doesn’t tell us how.  For the most part, all we get are trite descriptions of people moving forward in obedience after God has just blown their theology to pieces and shattered their confidence.  It’s only rarely that we get a recorded protest from guys like Jeremiah and Job, who express their frustration in terms we can identify with all too well.

So how do we survive a storm of disillusionment?  When God overwhelms us with His wild side and pulls out the “I’m God and I get to” card, how do we regain our balance and continue forward on steady footing?  It starts with understanding what is really at risk.  Are unanswered questions really as dangerous to our faith as they seem to be?  If we can’t explain why God didn’t follow through on some promise, does it mean our bond with Him has been weakened?  Our emotions say yes, but emotions lie.  It is when we are being tossed back and forth in the stormy seas of disillusionment that we learn just how secure our relationship with God really is.  We do not need to understand God in order have a very real intimate bond with Him.

When God throws us a curve ball in life, our emotions immediately detect a strong sense of distance between His Spirit and ours.  When we feel betrayed or attacked by God, we feel like He has emotionally cut us off.  He becomes like a friend who suddenly refuses to text us back or pick up the phone when we call.  We are desperate for Him to explain where we went wrong, how we offended Him, or which message we misinterpreted.  Like Job, we plead with God to explain what His problem with us is because we are so certain He must have one.  We just don’t know how else to interpret major breakdowns in communication except to assume that God is upset with us.  Yet in reality, we are not always to blame for the mess we find ourselves in.  God does promise things and then not deliver.  He does change His mind.  He does raise up false hopes and encourage wrong expectations.  Yet the fact still remains that EVERYTHING God does to us is for our spiritual best.

When we find ourselves completely disillusioned by something God has done in our lives, we need to get back to basics and remember why we exist in the first place.  God created us to KNOW Him.  He designed us with the capacity to bond with Him in a uniquely intimate way.  None of this is lost when we collide with God’s wild side.  He still wants us.  He is still drawing us closer in.  Instead of focusing on actions that we can’t understand, we need to focus on His Character.  God loves us and He is into us.  Having an eternal relationship with us is so important to Him that He sent His own Son to die in our place.  Do we really believe that God would go through such agony only to toss us aside at the very beginning of our relationship with Him?  This is simply not who He is.

The process of spiritual growth is fraught with irony.  To develop patience, we must drag through long bouts of exasperation.  To acquire unshakable faith, we must travel through deserts of intense doubt.  Whatever glorious spiritual trait we pray for, we can count on receiving its antithesis in spades before we finally get what we wanted.  Trust is the foundation of intimacy with God.  If we ask to be close to Him, He will intentionally create circumstances that stretch our ability to trust to the limit.  If a tree is to survive being buffeted with strong winds, its roots must drill down deep into the soil so its hold on the earth will be strengthened.  So also, if we are to become totally secure in our relationship with God, we must develop strong roots of trust that are solidly anchored in the foundation of His unchanging Character.  God is good.  He is faithful to us.  He is devoted to giving us His absolute best.  The question is: will we trust His methods?  Will we believe our own voices when we say, “God is infinitely wiser than we are” and “His ways are always best”?

God understands the intense fears and insecurities He triggers when He disillusions us in life.   But though these things feel like new elements to us, the fact is that they have always existed deep in our cores.  God doesn’t cause us to doubt Him—we have always been walking around with enormous doubts about Him, but we are unaware of this as long as those doubts remains unprovoked.  God doesn’t create insecurity in our relationships, He merely dredges up the insecurity that has always been there so He can transform it into something better.  Just as we might drag a molding bookcase out into the bright sun to cleanse it, so also God drags our deepest fears into the light of His truth one by one so that they might be countered and crumbled, never to bother us again.  His methods feel terrifying, but they really do work.  First we feel greatly intimidated by the strength of our doubts and fears, but then God slays them for us and we end up feeling incredibly free.  Our confidence and trust in Him grow exponentially stronger as the parasites of fear are torn off of them.  It is a violent process, filled with turbulent emotions and life-altering questions.  But we end up a thousand times stronger for it, and suddenly we know how David found the courage to march out against Goliath with the fate of an entire nation resting on his shoulders.

If you are currently going through a season of disillusionment with God, do not despair.  He is only putting you through this now to get you to a place where disillusionment is no longer possible.  It is possible to walk on the face of this earth completely confident in your bond with God.  It is possible to experience absolute trust in Him before you reach the next life.  How far you get depends on how far you are willing for Him to take you.  No matter how lost you might feel right now, your soul is still firmly anchored in Him, your life is securely in His hands, and He will never let you go.  Let Him have His way with you, and know that even this will serve to draw you so much closer in.  It is by feeling temporarily bound with doubts and fears that we end up freed from all bondage.  By bearing through the trauma of seeing our loving God morph into a wild and untrustworthy Stranger, we end up gaining intimate soul communion with a Lord whose gentle Presence fills our hearts with perfect, unshakable peace.

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