Hardships and Trials

When Reality Clashes With Our View of God

Quote from post with shimmery gradiant background

Sometimes our expectations lead to our greatest disappointments. They can hinder us from truly knowing one another.

Our expectations can hinder us from truly knowing God. Click To Tweet

Have you ever had someone grow attached to the person they thought you were? Not who you were but an individual they’d conjured in their mind? I have, and the situation didn’t end well.

I met Anna* at church. Though we had numerous mutual friends, children close in age, and had been part of the same faith community for years, we didn’t really know one another. But then, after having read material I wrote, she initiated a conversation. We soon developed a relationship and began to go on walks and talk over coffee. Our interactions, though brief and sporadic, were pleasant enough, until I ceased meeting the woman’s expectations.

She acted as if I had deceived and cheated her, and honestly, this hurt. It also left me momentarily confused. I had to pull back and process her perceptions in light of who I was—who God was calling me to be.

Have you ever experienced something similar?

Have you ever felt that way about God?

I have. My relationship with Christ has swung from one side of the pendulum to the other, finally resting back in center. Early on, I viewed Him as hard and exacting, the One with the power and authority to send me to hell and who would be quite justified in doing so. I knew Jesus as the Rule Setter but struggled to see Him as loving and compassionate God. Click To Tweet

Steadily, one sermon, Bible passage, and Christ-centered interaction at a time, He transformed my thinking so that I began to view Him as my Savior and Friend. And for sure, He is both of those, but somehow, in the softening, I lost sight of the fact that His merciful side doesn’t negate His awesome sovereignty as the One who formed and retains full ownership of all creation, myself included.

Christ's merciful side doesn’t negate His awesome sovereignty as the One who formed and retains full ownership of all creation, myself included. Click To Tweet

As a result, I began to expect blessings and abundance. Oh, I never would’ve said that, if asked. I understood, at least in theory, that life held no guarantees and often horrible things happen to really good, God-loving people. I had read the book of Job, after all. But when that somebody was me, I grew sulky, frustrated, and at times, downright angry. I accused God of holding out on me, of not caring, and of not listening.

But really the problem lay with me. I allowed my self-created ideas of who I thought He was hinder my intimacy with the God who is and always will be:

Always good, faithful, loving, and true.

One day, when our daughter was young, I asked her to help me unload groceries from the car. She huffed and said, “If you really loved me, you wouldn’t make me do this.”

I’m not sure if she really believed that or was simply trying to talk her way out of what she clearly deemed to be a rather torturous event. I suspect the latter. But she was so melodramatic about the whole thing, it was all I could do to keep from laughing. Once certain I could respond with appropriate sternness, I replied, “It is because I love you that I must insist you unload them all.” Then, pocketing my keys, I left her to it, adding, “I’m raising you to have a servant’s, not serve-me, heart.”

Then I went inside.

I wonder how many times God whispered similar words to my huffing and hemming heart over the years. “I know you want that promotion. I know you feel I’m being unfair withholding it from you, but I would rather raise a daughter who trusts in Me more than her paycheck.”

“I know you don’t enjoy having a chronic illness. I know it hurts and is hard. But I want you to quote pulled from post with gold backgroundexperience My strength made perfect in your weakness.”

Or perhaps most challenging, “I know you don’t like to see your daughter struggle in this way. I know it breaks your heart, and it does Mine as well. But you must entrust her to Me. I’m growing her, patiently and faithfully, just as I have you all these years.”

Having seen enough of His heart, of His faithfulness, I’ve come to realize how very good and faithful and attentive our God is. I’ve come to trust Him, to see Him as Father and Savior and Friend and King. I still have areas of deception He’s working to rectify with truth, areas of misconception His grace will expel. But for now, I’m resting in this:

God is good. He is loving. He is faithful, and He is enough. We often discover just how true these truths are when life hits hard and disappointments side-swipe us. Click To TweetI can trust God with my life and deepest desires and hurts, regardless of what my fickle feelings or faulty perceptions might tempt me to believe. And perhaps that’s the most glorious lesson He’s taught me—to question everything else but Him. To say, like the apostle Paul did in his letter to the Romans, “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4, ESV).

When our view of God clashes with reality, it’s an invitation to get to know Him better. Click To Tweet

*Name changed for privacy purposes

Let’s talk about this! When have circumstances challenged your view of God? How did you respond? Did your understanding of Him deepen through that event?

We also invite you to join our private online Facebook community where women can share their struggles, prayer requests, doubts, and celebrations. Find our community HERE.

If you’re struggling with a fear of weakness, or maybe you simply feel weak and need some extra encouragement, check out Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear Podcast: Courage to Live With a Limp. You can find that HERE.

If this devotion encouraged you, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find it HERE! And make sure to grab a copy of Drawing Near: 90-Day Devotional:

Cover image for Bible study devotionalEach day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Buy it HERE.