That night, at our house, over the course of seven sleepless hours my wife, Kristy, passed our miscarried baby. Braver than I, she held on to the words of the disappointed Old Testament saint, Job, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21b).
Over the following weeks I tried to walk through the loss with Job’s attitude. I spoke the words of Job many times to myself and to others, even to God. I prayed to Jesus. I asked for His healing to come quickly. But it didn’t. I wanted Him to miraculously reach down to Kristy’s heart and soul and body, perhaps while she was asleep one night letting her wake up the following morning with all hope and no hurt. Sure, Jesus healed Kristy, and for that I’m grateful, but it was on His timeline, not mine. And in all of this, I was disappointed with God. I was disappointed He would create life and take it away so soon, leaving my wife suffering in the wake.
In Mark 5, we find Jesus and His disciples in the midst of good times, good crowds and a comfortable setting. Jesus decided to take His young disciples across the Sea of Galilee to a place of pagan and cult worship. The land was full of violence and detestable worship. Their prized sacrificial animal was the pig, the animal Jews believed to be unclean, nasty, and forbidden—a filthy animal. Mark tells the story,
“When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him” (Mark 5:2-6, TNIV).
Jesus didn’t run from the crazed screaming man like I would’ve. Rather He healed the man by sending the demons into a heard of 2,000 pigs nearby, bringing about good by means of destroying their coveted idols. The pig. Then Jesus, perhaps with a tinge of humor, had the prized pigs scramble down a hill and tumble from a high cliff drowning in the sea below. In response to the healing and bizarre pig jumping the crazed, screaming man was overwhelmed with belief and gratitude, “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him” (Mark 5:18).
And in this moment, following his rescue, the healed man faced the truth we all face: Jesus will disappoint you.
“Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19). The man needed the disappointment. It was only in Jesus’ absence that the man began to tell his story and people were amazed.
I’ve learned my disappointment is always tied to my imperfect projected expectations upon a perfectly loving God who doesn’t always behave as I would have Him. God is not our puppet, though we like to pretend He is. And when we come face to face with the reality that we are rarely in control of our lives and most certainly not in control of God, disappointment results. Disappointment that we can’t have things our way, in our timing. Jesus will disappoint all of us, but in time we will see our disappointing moments are also our most refining ones. They are the moments that birth hope and instill the necessary wisdom for a future we must face.
When we reduce Jesus to merely an insightful person but refuse to recognize Him as the all-knowing sovereign Creator of the world, we lose the privilege of really knowing Him. The words in 1 John set my heart at ease: “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).
God has no obligation, nor intention, to explain every happening He causes or allows in our lives. That doesn’t make Him any less loving or good. It makes Him a father. A father who, like I do regularly with my little girl, withholds explanations His children don’t need or won’t understand. I may never know the good He intended for us through our miscarriage, but I set my heart at rest in His goodness and greatness, for He knows everything.
Russ Masterson is the founding and senior pastor of Christ the Redeemer Church of Marietta. Russ served as a student pastor and a college and singles pastor before founding Redeemer Marietta. By God's goodness, the church has grown from three families to more than 350 people in seven years. Russ holds degrees from the University of Georgia and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of three books: a memoir, 40 Days without Food; a novel, Adao's Dance; and his newest release, coauthored with Pastor Scotty Smith, Searching for Grace. The past ten years of Russ's life have been filled with weekly study and teaching of God's one-way love for us in Jesus—grace without any conditions, which frees, heals, and empowers growth in grace. Russ lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, three daughters, and a joyful labradoodle named Brother.