Disappointed (adjective): feeling sad, unhappy, or displeased because something was not as good as expected or because something you hoped for or expected did not happen.
What is your heart’s greatest desire? Is it to have your dream job? To be married? To have children? To win a championship? To see your family come to know Jesus? Maybe you want to travel, write, teach, speak, or go to graduate school. Maybe you want to own a home or write a book. Maybe you need your marriage to be redeemed. Maybe you need healing from a serious illness. Maybe you need friends.
For some reason in our culture, we think that if we ask God and have enough faith, He will give us the desires of our hearts. We come to expect that God will do whatever we want when we want it. If it doesn’t happen, we are angry and disappointed. 2 Kings 4:8-37 is a story of a woman who wanted something, and God did not answer like she thought he would. If you have time, please read the passage now.
The Desire (v. 8-16)
The Shunammite woman was someone who wanted to be near to God. She made a space in her home for Elijah, a man of God, to stay when he passed by. Her heart was open to the Lord and she was willing to serve Him in this way. God chose to bless her in her obedience. Elijah asked her what she wanted, and she didn’t really say at first. The servant told Elijah that she had no son, and he prophesied that she would have a son by that time in the next year. She said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant” (v. 16). You can sense the anguish in her tone as she pleads with him to not get her hopes up. Her longing for a child must have been so great that she did not even want to ask anymore. Maybe she had given up her dream. Maybe she had waited and waited month after month with nothing to show for it. However, even through the waiting, she still sought after the Lord. Because of her obedience, God decided to give her the desire of her heart. However, He did not give it to her as she had expected.
The Disappointment (v. 17-31)
The Shunammite woman had a son, just as God had promised. When he got older, he got sick and died in the arms of his mother who had begged Elijah to not get her hopes up. She must have been so angry, so confused. She probably was asking God, “Why? Why would you give me a son only to take him away from me? How could you put me through this?” What is so amazing about her story is that her hurt, anger, and disappointment drove her to the Lord. She could have said, “Forget you, God. I am done with you.” She could have run far away from Him because her promise was taken away, but she didn’t. She “laid him on the bed of the man of God,” and she went to seek out Elijah. She brought her seemingly broken promise before God and laid it at his feet. She found Elijah at Mount Carmel and broke before Him. All of her frustration, confusion, and disappointment were transparent in the presence of God. She shared her feelings with Elijah (v. 28), and he met her in her pain. He promised her something else, “As the Lord lives, I will not leave you.” Elijah saw her anguish and reached in to her situation to provide comfort. He did not reprimand her for her honesty with him. Instead, he empathized with her. God can handle our emotions, no matter how intense. He welcomes us to be honest and vulnerable before Him so that He can truly reach in and heal. If we are not transparent with God in our disappointment, He does not have the avenue He needs to heal us. God provides someone in her life not only to comfort her in her disappointment, but also to remind her that He was and always will be faithful. She needed to be reminded that she could trust in the One who would not fail her, even though it seemed to her that He had.
He is Faithful! (v. 32-37)
In the last part of the story, we see that God uses Elijah to raise the woman’s son from the dead. The dream she thought was dead was alive again! God proved himself faithful to keep His promises, but he did not fulfill it the way this woman had expected. I am sure she expected a long life with her beautiful son, and then the unimaginable happened. She experienced even more disappointment, more hurt, more pain than she ever thought she would have to endure again. But God honored her obedience to seek Him in the midst of her pain, to be honest and transparent with her feelings before Him, and to entrust Him with any dreams she had in her future. Her gave her promised son back to her. How did she respond? “She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground” (v.37). She worshipped the One who never disappoints. Now matter how much pain she had to go through, she still knew that God was faithful. She still knew that He would come through.
Sometimes God does not give us what are looking for. Sometimes he flat out says, “No,” if what we seek is not in line with His will in our lives. But sometimes, he says, “Yes.” We cannot expect God to be our puppet who does whatever we command. However, when we seek Him with reckless abandon, transparently share our feelings and desires with Him, and trust that His will is going to be done through it all, we will see God move in ways that we never thought possible. He comes alongside and does the unexpected. Yeah, maybe he requires us to walk through the desert to the get to the Promised Land, but He always is true to His word. It may not be what we are expecting, but it’s always better. It’s always much more.