A Crushing Blow
I sat staring silently at my phone while the band played in the background. Worship music filled my ears, but all I could read was the text message that had dealt me a crushing blow.
Something I had been dreaming about, hoping for, and praying for wasn’t going to happen. I felt devastated. Three months earlier, this opportunity had come up and I felt afraid to hope for it because it was exactly what I wanted. I remember specifically praying, “God, I’m afraid to get my hopes up about this. Don’t toy with my heart, because if I can’t have this—it will hurt too bad.”
Years before, God had given me specific promises and dreams about music, theater, and the entertainment industry. However, I had spent years experiencing rejection after rejection and closed door after closed door. And here I was, experiencing yet another slammed door.
I heard the usual voices rise up within me of hurt and accusation:
God doesn’t really love you.
He’s just toying with your heart.
This is another one of His cruel jokes.
He doesn’t keep His promises to you—only other people.
You’ll never get to have your dream.
I knew, in that moment, I had a decision to make. I could give in to disappointment and accuse God or I could choose differently. As I sat in the auditorium, with people singing all around me, I made a pivotal decision. This decision has marked my life and changed everything about the way I approach God.
When The Promise Isn't Happening
Before I get to the life-altering decision I made that night, I want to talk about promises, disappointment, and the nature of God. Here at The Crowning Jewels, we talk often about holding onto hope, promises, and trusting the God of the impossible. We are often encouraging others to lean in and trust His promises and His word. But what do we do when we have a promise we’re holding onto and it’s just not happening?
Most of us have experienced a promise from God. These promises come in the form of prophetic words, personal words from God, and promises in Scripture. Many of us have specific things we are believing for and wanting to see happen in our lives. And every single one of us has experienced some form of disappointment in life—large or small. For many of us, these disappointments are directly connected to the promises we’re trusting God for or the dreams in our hearts.
Can I be raw and honest for a moment?
Trust is hard.
And trust is especially hard when part of you doesn’t believe that God actually has your best in mind. Sure, we can say all day long that “God works everything together for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28), but saying something and believing it are two completely different stories.
In my case, disappointment was connected to a specific promise from God about my calling and destiny. Therefore, I felt convinced in my heart that God was the one letting me down; He was the one failing to keep His word. The more I looked at my circumstances, the more my circumstances repeatedly told me that what He had promised was never going to happen.
Unraveling the Lies
What I didn’t realize at the time was that there was a much bigger issue at stake than whether or not I was going to receive my promises. Two giant obstacles stood in the way of me trusting God. These obstacles were beliefs I had about the nature and character of God. I knew all the right Christian-y answers, but in my heart I still believed two massive lies about His nature. I believed:
- God isn’t truly good or kind.
- He doesn’t genuinely love me.
For years, God felt like a joker to me. I never knew which face I was going to get—the good, kind, loving Father, or the mean, angry man who could barely tolerate me. I was always back and forth. Some days, it seemed like He loved me extravagantly. Other days, He played cruel tricks on me or punished me for not being good enough or made me go through hard things to “teach me a lesson.”
When I experienced good things—blessings, favor, promotions, recognition etc., then God was good and He loved me. When I went through hardship—loss, brokenness, pain, heartache etc.—then God was cruel and didn’t love me. My circumstances constantly dictated to me whether or not God was good and I was loved.
This made it impossible for me to truly trust Him.
Encountering a God Who is Kind
The circumstances of life are constantly changing. Life is full of ups and downs; joy and pain; victory and defeat. However, God is not constantly changing. The very essence of His nature is that He is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Either He’s good or He isn’t. Either He’s kind or He isn’t. Either He loves me or He doesn’t. It can’t be both.
With tears streaming down my face, I made a decision that changed my life. I plunged a stake in the ground and refused to move, saying, “God, I will no longer allow something external—my circumstances—to tell me who You are. You are good no matter what my life looks like. And I believe You truly do love me.”
This acknowledgement didn’t take away the pain of my disappointment. I still cried for two hours over it. But it did take away another pain—the pain of believing in a God who isn’t constant in His love for me. Yes, it hurt to face another slammed door. But I was no longer also facing the pain of a God who toyed with my heart and emotions. He wasn’t playing a cruel joke on me simply because I didn’t get what I wanted when I wanted it. Rather, He loved me wildly in the middle of my pain.
Can I Trust Him?
I discovered something spectacular when I made the decision to trust His goodness. Whether or not I received my promise didn’t matter nearly as much as experiencing His love for me. I encountered the love of a God who is constant in the middle of my disappointment. I met a God who is kind when I’m in pain. And I discovered a God who is good—not just when my circumstances are good—but in every season.
I thought He would fulfill His promise to me through this door. However, that wasn’t the case. And looking back, I’m thankful that He didn’t. I am still waiting for the fulfillment of this promise. However, as I leaned in and trusted His goodness, I experienced a renewed sense of hope that I would one day receive what He promised me.
I’m thankful for the journey God is taking me on. Had I walked through the door I wanted to walk through, my life would’ve taken a different course. Because that door didn’t open, I took another, different leap and moved to a brand new city in order to pursue my dream. Amazingly enough, living in this city is a fulfillment of another promise. Yes, it looks different than I expected—nevertheless, it is exciting and enthralling.
I may not have the answers yet and am still in the middle of my story. However, I am unshakably confident of this:
God is good.
And He loves me.
These two truths never disappoint.
Declaration of Hope
Say aloud, "No matter what situation or circumstance I’m in, I know that I am completely and fully loved by God. I can experience His love in this moment and I can entrust my future to Him. He is kind, He is good, and He loves me. Therefore, I will trust Him and place my hope in Him."
©2018 The Crowning Jewels
All Rights Reserved
Written by Katelyn Alexander
Image by Ivan Karasev