Disappointed in God

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Something that Pope Francis said at a recent audience, while speaking about prayer, caught my attention. The Holy Father said: “If you have some wound in your heart, some pain, and you want to object, object even to God, God will listen to you. God is not afraid of our prayer of protest. No! God understands.”
Now, I can’t say that I have a “wound in my heart,” but like most of you, I suppose, there have been times when I’ve been frustrated that my prayers haven’t been answered; some occasions when I’ve been disappointed in God. In those moments I remember what Jesus said at the Last Supper: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:14) and I wonder what went wrong that my prayer wasn’t answered.
Sometimes, in going about my ministry, I’m irritated that God doesn’t seem to be doing his part. For example, we work very hard and pray incessantly for more vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese but our numbers still are lacking. Priestly vocations originate in the heart of God, and depend on the movement of the Holy Spirit, so why isn’t he calling more men to the priesthood? (By the way, the seminarians we do have are truly impressive, outstanding young men; we just need more of them!)
I think about this when I celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. We pray that the Holy Spirit will come into the hearts and souls of the young folks to strengthen their faith, but we know, statistically, that most of them will soon abandon their faith and quit the Church. “Why isn’t the Holy Spirit influencing these young folks to be more faithful?”, I ask myself. “Why isn’t God doing his part?”
We could point to other examples in the Church, but perhaps you’ve had some personal experiences of being disappointed in God, too; moments when your fervent prayers haven’t been answered. Perhaps you’ve been tempted to doubt God, to deny him, to give up on him completely. In those moments, though, it’s good to consider what Pope Francis said about prayer: “God is not afraid of our prayer of protest. No! God understands.”
We have to remember that God is still in charge; that he sees things far better than we do. And in the end, it won’t be very important whether or not we’ve been disappointed in God. It will be far more important that he’s not disappointed in us!
Something to think about: Have you had some moments when you’ve been disappointed in God? How did you handle that?