God never lets us down

Does God ever let us down?  In church today, we sang the words that God never lets us down, and I found myself wondering.  I’ve certainly FELT let down by God.  I’ve prayed for things, good things, holy things, and been denied.  I refuse to believe that it was a lack of faith that impeded the answer to my prayers.  On the two specific occasions that come to mind, I was very close to God by any measure.  The first time, in particular, I had a life built around my faith and service to the Divine.  I practiced multiple spiritual disciplines and was even in seminary because I felt called.  I also refuse to believe that my requests were somehow unacceptable or unworthy.  I prayed to save a marriage and a pregnancy.  No one can tell me that God does not favor both.  And yet, both ended.  Apparently, neither faithfulness nor righteousness is enough to guarantee answered prayers.  

So, did God let me down?  Was I somehow owed a result that I did not get?  The question seems ridiculous.  Why should I expect the God of the universe to owe me anything?!  And yet.  And yet, the Christian story is a story of God’s overwhelming love for us.  The Bible tells us that we are God’s adopted children.  That God knew us and loved us before we were born.  That God has counted the hairs on our head!  In fact, the Bible tells us that God loved us so much that God sent God’s own son to die for our sins.  As Christians, we believe in God’s personal love for each and every person.  And that love requires that God care, and care deeply, about  my happiness and well-being.  We would not consider someone a good parent who was callous to the wants and needs of their child.  Jesus actually said:  “What parent would give their child a snake if they asked for a fish?”  Of course God cares!  God is the original parent.  The exemplar.  

So no, God does not OWE me anything.  Rather, God GIVES freely of God’s love and goodness because that is God’s very nature.  God IS love.  God IS good.  So by God’s own character God wants humanity to be well, to do well, to be joyful, to find beauty, to find peace.  We are right to expect those things from God because we are faithful—we believe in the love and goodness of God.  That is what faith is!  And we are not saved or transformed without it.      

So, did God let me down?  After my last loss in particular, I was almost immobilized by my grief and my anger.  I’ve never felt so estranged from God.  So isn’t it enough that I FELT let down?  After all, isn’t it a matter of perspective?  And if God is love and God is good, isn’t the fact that I felt abandoned and betrayed enough to illicit God’s sympathy and compassion??  Wasn’t in fact God’s heart breaking with mine?  It was that thought which got me through.  I remembered that Jesus too had felt abandoned and betrayed, had in fact BEGGED in the garden of Gethsemene with a prayer as heartfelt as my own, had even DIED on a cross asking God why God had forsaken him, God’s very son.  It was THIS God, Jesus, that I could relate to.  This broken God who had done everything right and kept faith and still suffered from an unanswered prayer.

So, did God let me down?  Not ever.  Not once.  With complete respect to my younger self, it was my theology that was inadequate, not God.  God’s arms were, and always are, big enough…for me, my pain, my anger, my confusion, all of me.  God can hold it all and never let me down.    

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