When Things go Sideways

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We have just gone through a very tumultuous year, and it has been capped off by a very crazy presidential election. We have one side claiming victory, and the other side vowing to fight electoral corruption to the very end. Now depending on whether you are for one candidate or the other, things either did or didn’t go the way you wanted. Emotions were high for this election, not unlike elections in the past. Do you remember how people rioted and carried on just four short years ago? It seems that the further divided our country gets, that one certainty remains. Each presidential election cycle is going to be packed with emotion an someone will claim that the entire future of the nation depends on their guy winning.
But who are we kidding? This isn’t just a political thing. We want things to go our way, and we Christians aren’t immune from disappointment. When God doesn’t do things exactly the way we want Him to, we are devastated. Today, I want to tell you two stories, and I want us to glean what we can from these two stories. We will learn something of the nature of God and hopefully learn to apply this to our lives.

The Story of Naaman

Naaman was a commander in the Syrian army, he was valiant and a national hero, he had a bit of a problem though - He was a leper. During one of his raids, he captured an young Israeli girl, whom he brought home to be his wife’s slave. For some reason, it seems that this girl began to have great affection for Naaman and his wife and mentioned to her mistress that she wished that they lived in Samaria because then Naaman could be healed by the prophet who lived there. Naaman goes to the king of Syria and asks for not only permission, but an introduction to the King of Israel so that he can go meet the prophet Elisha and have him pray for his healing. So we pick up the story now with Naaman having just given his letter of introduction from the King of Syria to the Israeli king.
2 Kings 5:7–12 NKJV
And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.” So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

The Problem of Unmet Expectations

So here we have Naaman super upset that the prophet didn’t meet his expectations. What was he expecting? Well he was expecting some grandiose show. He wanted the prophet to come out with a flourish and wave his hand over him like a cheap Vegas magician. It is probably an expectation based off of how other people who claimed to be prophets, seers or wizard had behaved when “healing” someone. Instead Elisha doesn’t even come out himself, he sends a messenger.
How many times has that happened to you or me? Probably more times that we care to admit, or perhaps even more correctly more times than we are even aware it has happened. We pray with a certain expectation of how this particular prayer is supposed to be answered, and then we get to the moment of truth, and nothing that we asked for seems to happen. We often get angry with God and say but God, you didn’t wave your hand over me, you didn’t restore my relationship, or you didn’t send me that check for $1,000, or… or… and the list goes on and on.

Acknowledge That God’s Ways are Not Our Ways

Saints, our problem is not that God didn’t answer our prayer, it’s that He didn’t meet our expectations. God is under no obligation to answer our prayers, He does so out of the abundance of grace and love that He showers upon His children, yet somehow we believe that not only must He answer our prayers, He must do so in the precise manner that we want Him to. You see we look at our situation through very human eyes, with our own understanding of our situation and come up with a very sensible, albeit human solution. The thing is that scripture tells us that…
Isaiah 55:8–9 NKJV
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Trust God to Accomplish His Word

So the very first lesson we need to apply here is that God’s Ways are Not Our Ways. We need to step back and let God be God. It’s almost as though we are afraid that God has missed some little detail about our situation and that He is not as qualified as we are to handle our issue. The truth is that God knows the situation even more intimately than we do. We need to let go of our preconceived notion of HOW God is supposed to fix us, and just step aside and let Him do the actual fixing.

The Problem of Pride

Isaiah 55:10–11 NKJV
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
The thing is that God is so much more intimately familiar with our situation than we can ever be. Look what He’s saying right there. He’s talking about the water cycle, something that is not familiar to the people of that time. The rain and snow do indeed come down and then return from the earth - usually. The water cycle does not happen when it terminates in watering crops. Why not? Because at that point it become part of the plant. When water falls on the ocean or on barren land however, it evaporates. In this passage of scripture God is demonstrating that He sends His favor upon the earth to accomplish specific tasks and that you don’t have to understand how He’s doing it, you don’t even have to understand to whom or to what He is doing, you just have to know one thing. that it prospers “in the thing for which He sent it.”
Listen to this story I found online. “In the scriptures, we hear about the pride cycle. I have been shown a pride cycle of my own. It started with murmuring.
I’ve been murmuring a lot lately. Mainly about my vehicle. First, the battery was dying every night and every day after work. I finally got that fixed and then it started acting up in a different way. My mom lives only 15 minutes away. It was taking 45 minutes to an hour to get there because of it acting up.
I went to a car lot that was running a special, thinking that maybe it was in God’s plan for me to get a new car so I could have reliable transportation, better gas mileage, and I would have a way to visit my husband who is temporarily living 7 hours away. With a new car, I wouldn’t have to worry about my vehicle all of the time. Unfortunately, that did not work out. Even with the special, it was still too much for us to afford right now.
That was on a Friday. Saturday I was really murmuring. Then Sunday morning came.
Sunday my four kids were getting along, we got ready for church, and then we go out to the vehicle…and I can’t find my keys. My son had used them earlier that morning to unlock it and get his stuff out. I had him retrace his steps. We spent 30 minutes looking for them before I told the kids, “Never mind, we aren’t going to church.” I could have called someone to come get us but I was too angry. I cleaned my son’s room and went through the hallway but no luck and I was tired. You hear all kinds of stories of people praying to find something and voila they find it, so I decided to give it a shot.
But Monday came and went with me cleaning/destroying the house and still no keys! I even looked in the fridge and freezer – faith without works is dead, right?! I had to be thorough. Monday night my kids and I prayed again.
Tuesday I was stressing how to get to work, how to get a babysitter, etc. Here is where my pride set in. I could have called many people, I’m sure, but I didn’t want to be a bother. I was irritated I hadn’t found the keys, I was embarrassed. Doesn’t God usually help the lost be found by now?
We prayed again.
During this time we couldn’t just go to the store when we wanted, we couldn’t go to the park, we couldn’t go out to Grandma’s. Again my pride came into play. I could have asked people to help get us to places, but I didn’t. In the scriptures God usually puts people through trials to test their faith and humble them, and so was the case with me.
Thursday came and I swallowed my pride. I did ask my sister if I could borrow her truck to get around. She let me. Then that night as I was cleaning the house some more, I came across a box that I had been throwing stuff into and moving around as I cleaned. I decided it finally needed to be taken out. Then it dawned on me. That was the only place I hadn’t looked. I opened the flaps and there were the keys, sitting right on top. I couldn’t believe it.
God did answer my prayer, just not as fast as in other stories that I have heard. God needed to teach me a lesson before He helped me find my keys and in order to humble me.
Any vehicle is better than no vehicle is the lesson I learned. Also that the Lord always answers our prayers just not always how or when we expect it.”
Let’s go back to Naaman. He was suffering a crisis of pride too.
2 Kings 5:12 NKJV
Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
It seems Naaman had a case of “knowing more than God”. He reasoned that there were much better, nicer, or even cleaner rivers at home in which he could bathe and be healed. Luckily Naaman’s servant was a bit more level-headed. And advises him to set aside his pride.
2 Kings 5:13 NKJV
And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
He gives him very sane and simple advice, and that is

Obey the Word of God

We can overcome the pride of thinking we know more or better than God by responding to God’s direction with humble obedience. Remember this story?
Luke 5:1–7 NKJV
So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Peter received his miracle AFTER he obeyed. Oh, he argued with Jesus just a little bit because after all, Jesus was a carpenter, why should he be telling a fisherman his business? but look at these very key words right here.
Luke 5:5 NKJV
But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
No matter how desperate things seem we must take God at His word, remembering that God sees all and knows exactly how to make the situation right. And He won’t always answer our prayers the way we expect. But we must learn to act on His word.

Respond With Thanksgiving

No matter how crazy it seems, we must learn to act on any instruction God may be giving us concerning His word. Look at how the story of our friend Naaman ends.
2 Kings 5:14–15 NKJV
So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.”

The Problem of Doubt

Perhaps just as bad as pride is the problem of Doubt. You see, the problem of doubt assumes that God has missed out on some detail that only you know about and so He is missing out on something important. Something that makes Him less than credible. The problem of doubt is a different bird altogether. An equally stinky and annoying bird, but it is there nonetheless.
For this we’ll go to one of the most famous doubters in the Bible.
Let’s set this up, the disciples had been following Jesus for 3 1/2 years and just when they thought God was going to bring the Kingdom of God to them, the one in whom they had placed all their how was seemingly vanquished by their enemy. Have you ever felt that deep disappointment that the outcome you expected had been dashed? Any of you feeling that way this week? Well that’s how the disciples were feeling. Suddenly they start to see Jesus, at first just a couple of them, but eventually He makes Himself known to all. All that is except one of them - Thomas. Here is where we pick up.
John 20:24–29 NKJV
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Doubt Keeps US From Seeing God

Thomas wasn’t around when Jesus first appeared to them all, so he was still operating under the weight of the disappointment of Jesus’ crucifixion which manifest itself as intense doubt. Make no mistake saints, disappointment can really kill our faith. The problem is that disappointment is unfounded when we fail to understand that God’s ways are not our ways. You see the disciples were expecting a political savior, instead God sent them a savior of souls.
Thomas’ doubt was the result of not really knowing Jesus.
John 14:5–7 NKJV
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

Overcome Doubt By Knowing Jesus

The key then to overcoming the kind of doubt that wrecks our faith is by knowing God.
John 10:24–30 NKJV
Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
So how do we know Jesus? If you’ve forgotten already, our series of “Growing in the Knowledge of Christ” is up on our YouTube channel for you to review.


It is inevitable that in our Christian walk we will have unmet expectations, but it is important to remember, that God doesn’t answer prayer by meeting our needs the way we demand He meet them. And so very often we accuse God of ignoring our request when in fact, He has answered it, only not in the manner in which we expected Him to do so.
Remember that God’s Ways are Not Our Ways and the we must trust God to Accomplish His Word. The problem is that our own pride often gets in the way. To combat this, we must obey the Word of God by respond with thanksgiving. But make no mistake, pride is not the only pitfall, the problem of doubt is just as destructive because doubt Keeps US From seeing God. Remember that we can overcome doubt by knowing Jesus
Let us pray
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