The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope when God Seems to Fail Us
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The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope when God Seems to Fail Us

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by John M. Koessler

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Disappointment is a feeling everyone knows well—failed relationships, buyer’s remorse, unmet expectations, and so on. In a broken world, disappointment surrounds us.

But Christians know that Jesus will never disappoint us, right? Wrong. John Koessler explains how Jesus disappoints everyone. He never fails, but he does disappoint.

We come to Jesus


Disappointment is a feeling everyone knows well—failed relationships, buyer’s remorse, unmet expectations, and so on. In a broken world, disappointment surrounds us.

But Christians know that Jesus will never disappoint us, right? Wrong. John Koessler explains how Jesus disappoints everyone. He never fails, but he does disappoint.

We come to Jesus with false expectations, demanding or expecting things he doesn’t promise, and then when he doesn’t deliver, we are disappointed by Him. But Koessler explains how this can be the best thing for us even though it doesn’t feel good. He describes how this sort of disappointment takes our wrong expectations and sets them straight, bringing us closer to Jesus and into a deeper understanding of his very surprising grace.

This book is a wonderful resource for people struggling with life’s hard times as well as for counselors or pastors seeking to help others.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a must read for every Christian. You will find hope and encouragement throughout the book. I happily gave this 5/5 stars! I would recommend this book to anyone who has recently dealt with a time in their life where something did not happen the way they thought it should. You may not agree with everything the author puts out there for you to think about but you will not be able to deny he has done his research. I liked the style of writing and the attitude of the author is definitely friendly and non judgmental. This is a book I would read again.

Review by Irene Grove on NetGalley

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Moody Publishers
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The Surprising Grace of Disappointment

Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us

By JOHN KOESSLER, Ed Gilbreath

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2013 John Koessler
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-1056-6



False Hope and Unreasonable Expectations

When Jesus Feels Too Far Away

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

—PSALM 139:7

My first major purchase was a submarine. I saw it on the back of a cereal box, which boasted of its prowess as a "real" diving submarine. The power of baking powder and this little vessel promised to make me master of the seas—or at least master of the bathtub. I had to have it, even though it cost me several weeks of my allowance.

The day it came in the mail, I carried it into the bathroom. Feeling the heart-pounding thrill that comes with a new purchase, I turned on the faucet. I tore open the box and realized that the submarine was smaller than I had imagined. No matter. I let the water run until it had nearly reached the top of the tub, loaded the special compartment at the bottom of the sub with baking soda, and launched it.

The sub went straight to the bottom. It did not dive. It sank. Bubbles rose to the surface as the baking soda began to dissolve and then suddenly it bobbed back up to the surface. After a while it sank again. There was a kind of novelty in this but overall it was less than I had hoped for. A wave of disappointment washed over me and I realized that I had wasted my savings on a cheap plastic toy.

When I grew older I put such childish concerns behind me. But disappointment would not be put off so easily, instead, it adapted to my changing tastes, attaching itself to the more complex toys of adulthood and insinuating itself into my vocation and my most cherished relationships. As a young pastor fresh out of seminary, I dove into my new job with all the hope and excitement I felt upon opening my new submarine. But it did not take long for me to realize that my lofty expectations as the shepherd of my own flock did not always match the mundane needs of my rural congregation.

Early in my tenure, when I attempted to present my long-term goals for worship, fellowship, evangelism, and discipleship to the elders, I expected them to be impressed. Instead, they looked at one another quizzically until someone finally said, "For the life of me, I can't understand why you put evangelism on this list." Well, at least I had my sermons. From the start, I felt most comfortable in the study and the pulpit. That is until one parishioner offered me advice for improving my messages. "If you can't say it in twenty minutes, it doesn't need to be said," he told me as he shook my hand alter the sermon.

My work, even though it was ministry, often seemed like toil. People I loved did not always love me back. I occasionally took those who did love me for granted or treated them unkindly. I set out to make something of myself and glorify God in the process. Yet after making every effort to "expect great things from God and attempt great things for God," my accomplishments failed to reach the trajectory I expected.

Christianity without Scars

I should not have been surprised. We live in an age of unreasonable expectations. Ours is a world where promises are cheaply made, easily broken and where hyperbole is the lingua franca. Advertisers tell us that a different shampoo will make us more attractive to the opposite sex. Alcohol will lubricate our relationships. Purchasing the right car will be a gateway to adventure. These pitchmen promise to do far more than enhance our lives. They are peddling ultimate fulfillment.

"The problem with advertising isn't that it creates artificial needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires," media critic Jean Kilbourne observes. "We are not stupid: we know that buying a certain brand of cereal won't bring us one inch closer to that goal. But we are surrounded by advertising that yokes our needs with products and promises us that things will deliver what in fact they never can." Kilbourne notes that ads also have a tendency to promote narcissism while portraying our lives as dull and ordinary. They trade on natural desires but in a way that heightens our dissatisfaction and creates unrealistic expectations.

The church is not immune from this way of thinking. American popular theology combines the innate optimism of humanism with the work ethic of Pelagianism, resulting in a toxic brew of narcissistic spirituality that is pragmatic and insipidly positive. This is Christianity without scars. One in which all the sharp edges of our experience have been smoothed over. It offers a vision of what it means to follow Jesus, one that substitutes nostalgia in place of hard facts and replaces Jonathan Edwards's notion of "religious affections" with cheap sentimentalism.

Such a view has more in common with positive thinking than with those who saw God's promises and welcomed them from a distance (Heb. 11:13). It depicts a world in which "not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but his smile quickly drives it away" (as the words to the old hymn "Trust and Obey" say). There is no place on such a landscape for someone like Job, whose path has been blocked by God and whose experience is shrouded in darkness (Job 19:8). It has no vocabulary adequate enough to express Jeremiah's complaint that he has been deceived and brutalized by God's purpose (Jer. 20:7).

Brochures for Christian conferences claim that those who attend will "never be the same." Church signs boast of being the "friendliest" church in town. In other contexts we would have no trouble recognizing such claims for what they are—the hyperbolic white noise of marketing. But when extravagant claims like these are taken up by the church, they are invested with an aura of divine authority. This is especially true when the language of biblical promise is pressed into service to support such claims.

In the Scriptures, Jesus sometimes employs hyperbole. He also makes bold claims for Himself and for the gospel that are not hyperbolic. The difference between His claims and those we often hear in the church is that Jesus' claims, while extreme, are not extravagant. The church cheapens these promises when it resorts to clichés and the rhetoric of spiritual marketing to describe its experience and its ministries.

The Language of Unsustainable Intimacy

One example of this is the language we commonly use to describe our relationships. In his book The Search to Belong, Joseph R. Myers uses the categories of physical space coined by anthropologist Edward T. Hall to describe levels of belonging in the church. Hall identified four kinds of space that define human interactions: public, social, personal, and intimate. According to Myers, the church commonly uses the language of intimacy to describe relationships which are at best close friendships. "The problem is that when I define my personal relationships as intimate," Myers explains, "I dilute the meaning of those relationships I hold in truly intimate space."

Like the false promise of advertising, such labels exploit our natural desire for human intimacy and set us up for inevitable disappointment. It places an unreasonable burden on the small group, Sunday school, or worship service that is described this way. In reality, those contexts and relationships that can genuinely be described as "intimate" are few. Myers offers a needed reality check when he wonders whether we even want all our relationships to be intimate: "Think of all the relationships in your life, from bank teller to sister to coworker to spouse. Could we even adequately sustain all these relationships if they were intimate?"

The same is true when it comes to the language the church uses to characterize the kind of relationship we can expect to have with Jesus Christ. Not long ago a former student of mine complained about the way youth leaders use what he called "the language of unsustainable intimacy" to describe our relationship with Jesus Christ. "It's the sort of thing you hear when youth group leaders tell their students to 'date' Jesus," he explained. When the church uses the language of unsustainable intimacy to describe our experience with Christ, it substitutes cheap intimacy for the real thing and fails to do justice to divine transcendence.

We are like God, but God is different from us (Num. 2.3:19; Isa. 55:8–9). God is like us and yet He is not like us. "God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being," C. S. Lewis observes. We were made in God's image (Gen. 1:2.6). We are like Him, but He is not like us. "He makes, we are made: He is original: we derivative. But at the same time, and for the same reason, the intimacy between God and even the meanest creature is closer than any that creatures can attain with one another."

Likewise, the Bible also affirms that in the Incarnation God the Son was "made like" us (Heb. 2:17). He was tempted in all things just like we are (Heb. 4:15). This commonality guarantees that we can look to Christ to find sympathy and help in temptation and opens the way for real relationship. However, the risen Christ is also a transcendent Christ. In his post-resurrection appearances, Jesus invited His disciples to "touch and see" that He was not a ghost (Luke 24:39; John 20:27). This was solid proof that the reality of Christ's humanity continued after the resurrection. But it is equally clear from these appearances that the way those disciples related to Jesus changed radically after the resurrection. Mary was told not to cling to Jesus' physical form because He must ascend to the Father (John 20:17). The same John who speaks so familiarly of seeing and touching Christ and who laid his head on the Savior's breast falls at Jesus' feet as one dead (Rev. 1:17).

Just as Jesus' disciples did not relate to Christ the same way after the resurrection as they did prior to this event, our relationship with Jesus is not with Christ as we find Him in the Gospels. We worship an ascended and glorified Christ. In the resurrection, the veil that hid Christ's divine glory from view was torn away. Jesus is still like us but He is also unlike us. We will be glorified "like Him" but in a day that is still to come (1 John 3:2.).

According to Jesus, no one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son "and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him" (Matt. 11:27). This is a revelation of the Father "without which every eye is dark, and by which any eye that He wills may be enlightened." But it is not an ordinary relationship. We do not interact with the Father the way we interact with a parent, sister, or lover. It is true that Christian mystics like the sixteenth-century Spanish nun Teresa of Avila have long used the language of intimacy to describe their experience of Christ. Teresa spoke of Christ as both a friend and a lover. But she also warned that in our experience with Christ we should expect desolation, pain, and suffering.

Why We Can't Sense God's Presence

The Bible uses images of intimacy to characterize our relationship with Christ. We are compared to a bridegroom and bride, husband and wife, and a parent and child (Isa. 54:5; Rev. 21:29; Matt. 7:11). The difference between these and the "language of unsustainable intimacy" is that the language we often use gives the false impression that intimacy with Christ can be experienced and maintained by the same mechanisms that sustain ordinary relationships: physical presence, touch, and conversation. Presence is an important element in our relationship with Christ. Jesus promised to be with us "until the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). But this is a spiritual and invisible presence that is mediated through the Holy Spirit rather than a physical presence. John could say that he had seen and touched Christ, but we cannot (1 John 1:1). Our peculiar blessing is to be in intimate fellowship with One who is invisible to us (John 20:29). We are in a similar position when it comes to prayer. It is true that we enjoy a kind of conversation with Jesus through the exercise of prayer, but it often feels like a one-sided conversation. He responds to our prayers but remains audibly silent. What was said of the Jews with regard to the Father could be said of us with respect to Christ: "You have never heard his voice nor seen his form" (John 5:37).

There is a kind of hearing in our relationship with Christ. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). But for most, this hearing is not audible. Jesus does speak through Scriptures, but this is communication by means of inference. We extrapolate what Christ is saying to us through something that was either spoken or written to someone else. This is not like ordinary conversation.

God, of course, is never truly absent. There is no place that we can go to escape His presence (Ps. 139:7–12). But the fact that He is everywhere and always present does not guarantee that we will sense His presence. To the contrary, absence is as much a fact of our experience of God as the reality of His presence.

Why is this so? One reason God seems to be absent is because of sin's intrusion into divine and human relationships. According to Genesis 3:7–8, as soon as Adam and Eve became aware of God "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" after they had eaten from the forbidden tree, their first instinct was to hide "among the trees of the garden." It is not God who prefers to keep a distance but us. Our relationship with God and with one another was not entirely destroyed by sin, but it was distorted. We do not sense God's presence because we are trapped in a compound of our own making, hiding from God and from one another behind walls of alienation (Col. 1:21; Titus 3:3).

However, sin is not the only reason we find it difficult to sense God's presence. Absence is a normal feature of all relationships. The late Anthony Bloom wrote: "The fact that God can make Himself present or can leave us with the sense of His absence is part of a live and real relationship." Bloom noted that a mechanical approach, where we try to compel God to manifest His presence simply by drawing near, has more in common with idol worship than Christian spirituality: "We can do that with an image, with the imagination, or with the various idols we put in front of us instead of God; we can do nothing of the sort with the living God, any more than we can do it with a living person."

If there is an analog in our ordinary experience to the kind of mechanical spirituality Bloom condemned, it is to be found in pornography. Think about it. One appeal of pornography is that it offers sensuality without responsibility. The one who uses an image to stimulate lust craves an experience which simulates intimacy but without the obligations that comes with a real relationship. There is sensation and gratification but no mutuality. We treat God in a similar fashion when we turn to the mechanics of the spiritual disciplines hoping that they will generate a sense of His presence.

What Kind of Personality Did Jesus Have?

In Evangelicalism we often speak of our "personal" relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet we really know very little about Christ's personality. We know that Jesus possessed a personality. But we know virtually nothing about those aspects that would have made His personality distinct from that of another. We do not know anything about His appearance, and next to nothing about the sound of His voice. We know that He was a carpenter, but we do not know what He liked to do in His spare time. We know that Jesus cried but do not know what made Him laugh—or even if He laughed. We cannot see the gleam in His eye or the way His forehead might have wrinkled when He thought deeply about something. Indeed, we have a much clearer notion of Simon Peter's personality than we do of Christ's.

Some try to resolve this dilemma by suggesting that Jesus had a perfectly balanced personality. They say that if Jesus had taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, He would have scored equally in every area. But isn't this just a way of saying that Jesus had no personality at all? What is more, if Jesus was truly God in the flesh as the Bible declares, such a scenario seems extremely unlikely. If personality is the result of a combination of factors which includes both genetic makeup and experience, then as far as His human nature was concerned, Jesus must have had His own distinctive personality. Otherwise He would not have been human.

There are, of course, moments in the Bible when the clouds part and a ray of personality peeks through: Jesus looks around in anger or feels love for a young man who has rejected His call to follow (Mark 3:5; Mark 10:21). He speaks tenderly to a shy woman (Luke 8:48). Yet even in these instances we learn more about Jesus' character than we do His personality. The Bible is mostly silent on this subject. However, our ignorance of the details of Christ's human personality does not prevent us from having a personal relationship with Him. Jesus' promise to come to the disciples after His departure is proof that physical absence does not mean a lack of presence (John 14:18). The ascension of Christ paved the way for the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the church (John 16:7). The advent of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to experience true intimacy with Christ.

This intimacy is unlike any other relationship with which we are familiar. Our relationship with Christ is one in which we are known more than we know (1 Cor. 13:12.). The comfort we find in the conversation of prayer is the comfort of being heard more than of hearing (1 John 5:14–15). It is a relationship that is personal but reveals little about Jesus' personality. It is also a relationship where our greatest intimacy is to be experienced in the future rather than the present. This means that for the present we should not expect to find ultimate fulfillment in our experience of Christ. That is yet to come. We may even find on occasion that human relationships are more vivid and immediately satisfying to us. Perhaps this is implied in the earthly analogies the Bible uses when it speaks of our relationship to God. These concrete experiences "put a face" on our spiritual relationship and help us to relate to the invisible God in a personal way.

Excerpted from The Surprising Grace of Disappointment by JOHN KOESSLER. Copyright © 2013 by John Koessler. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Winsome. Honest.  Faithful.  Those are the words that come immediately to mind when I think of the writing of John Koessler.  He writes with engaging charm, with frank honesty about the rough texture of life, and with a grounded faith that will not be moved. It's why I publish anything I can by him in Christianity Today.  It's why you should read everything he writes, starting here.  --Mark Galli, editor, Christianity Today.


When you experience disappointment with people, you’re human. You reach a different level when you become disappointed with yourself. But when you become disappointed with God, you’ve arrived at the place where grace can mend a broken heart. This is a book for anyone who has been hurt, let down, and bruised. It’s for all of us.--Chris Fabry Host of Chris Fabry Live! and author of Borders of the Heart



The Surprising Grace... marks yet another fresh insight from the pen of John Koessler. Tackling a universal and thorny struggle nearly everyone faces, Koessler comes at it with his remarkable ability to put the theological cookies on the lower shelf where laypeople like me can reach them. And they taste good.--Jerry B. Jenkins, Novelist & Biographer

All of us as Christians have been disappointed by Jesus; yes, we all have to admit He has often not answered our prayers according to our liking; He has not healed the sick or given us the opportunities we had hoped for. But yes, in this book we learn that disappointments are also surprising marks of “Grace.” Even as Jesus displayed in the New Testament, our disappointments are His appointments to lead us to deeper relationship with Him.  Read this book and be encouraged, then pass it along to someone who even needs it more than you did!--Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church

"Here is a strong antidote for glib, shallow Christianity, and a helpful guide for those on the lifelong quest to understand how the Bible and life align."--Craig Brian Larson

Pastor, Lake Shore Assembly of God, Chicago

In the tradition of Philip Yancey’s singular book, Disappointment with God, John Koessler’s layered approach to a haunting subject reaches a variety of readers. He stirs long-resigned Christians by surprising them with unsentimental yet poignant takes on familiar truths.  He prods the cynical with hard-hitting, unsparing honesty, and his fresh, thoughtful interpretations of biblical narratives instruct the layperson while inspiring teachers and pastors to look at scripture more creatively.

It is rare to find theological truth delivered in literate prose, a consistent mark of Koessler’s writing. His gifts of insight and respect for language, combined with engaging personal stories and a broad range of allusions to other writers and theologians, make this book stand out among its peers.--Dr. Rosalie de Rosset, Professor of Communications and Literature

Moody Bible Institute

The Surprising Grace of Disappointment is both challenging and comforting in its honest and biblical interaction with the various ways in which God disappoints his people. Dr. John Koessler helps us to see the danger of our own agendas and expectations when we are not rooted in the sovereign purpose and plan of the God who knows and loves his people. This is a book that will steer the reader away from a demanding presumption and toward an expectant faith that really believes that God's ways are not our ways, and that this is a good thing. His ways are better.

Joe Thorn

Author, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself; Lead Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship (St. Charles, IL)

Meet the Author

JOHN KOESSLER serves as chair of the Pastoral Studies department in the undergraduate school of the Moody Bible Institute where he has served on the faculty since 1994. Prior to joining the Moody faculty, John served as pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, IL for nine years. He is an award winning author who has written thirteen books and numerous magazine articles. He writes the monthly Thelogy Matters column for Today in the Word and is a frequent workshop leader at the Moody Pastor's Conference. John is married to Jane and they have two adult sons. They live in Munster, IN.

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The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope when God Seems to Fail Us 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Brandan-Robertson More than 1 year ago
NEWSFLASH! Jesus is a huge disappointment to most Christians. Surprised to hear it? Probably. But only because you know its true. And finally an evangelical has stepped up to the plate to say it loud and proud while grounding us in the truth that even though Jesus may be disappointing at times (or even most of the time), we still have a lot of hope in him. You may not have heard of Dr. John Koessler. Though he is a frequent contributor to large evangelical outlets like Christianity Today, Church Leader Gazette, and Preaching Today, he is best known as an incredibly humble mentor and professor to hundreds of Pastors and aspiring Pastors who have passed through the Pastoral Studies program at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Dr. Koessler is one of my favorite professors (and I am not just saying that) because of his honesty, openness, and wit. He doesn't hide or sugar coat the truth about things in the Christian and specifically evangelical world. One of his books is entitled Stranger in the House of God which is a perfect description of John Koessler- an amazing professor and preacher who just doesn't really fit into the evangelical mold and yet stays anyways because of his commitment and convictions. And that's precisely how I have felt over the last 7.5 years of my Christian journey- so I have always connected with Dr. Koesslers teaching/work/perspective. For a few years he has been talking about writing a book called Why Jesus Disappoints Everyone. No one actually believed that he'd actually do it...but here it is. And boy am I excited that this resource is available to the evangelical community (under a slightly less shocking title, of course) The thesis of the book is that many Christians have bought into a consumeristic image of Jesus that has no real basis or biblical support. We believe in, as Christian Smith says, a therapeutic, moralistic, deism that is not at all reflective of the faith of Christ. And so often, we find ourselves demanding and expecting things out of Jesus that he simply does not give us. We have an image of Jesus as the guy who is there whenever we need stuff and content to stand-by when we don't. And this false image of Jesus leads us to a lot of disappointment and unfulfillment in our lives. But this disappointment, according to Koessler, is a surprsing grace from God that we can learn to cherish and be thankful for, even through the times of profound disappointment with God. Koesslers first chapter is entitled False Hope and Unreasonable Expectations and centers around the idea that many in the Church have made cheap the promises of God in the Bible when "it resorts to clichés and the rhetoric of spiritual marketing to describe its experience and its ministries." (pg. 20) By embracing the "hyperbolic white noise of marketing", we make the church just another business seeking to sell its product by making it look and sound better than the next. And frankly, we do a bad job at that as it is. By adapting and embracing consumerism as a Church, we make hype up Jesus in a deceptive and untrue way that brings people in the doors of the church, and right back out with the taste of cheap disappointment. Because lets face it- the real Jesus is no where near as appealing or fun as the Jesus we try to sell to the world. Whether our fake Jesus is the one that promises health, wealth, and prosperity, or one that will fill the hole in you heart and make you happy all the time, the real Jesus simply doesn't live up to these promises. In fact, we often find the exact opposite of what we promised- instead health we have sickness, instead of wealth we have poverty, instead of fulfillment we have a heightened awareness of our profound emptiness. But its not him whose failing- its us. And Koessler goes great lengths to point that out. Koessler progresses with this theme as the basis for the book and touches on issues dealing with how we relationally relate to God in light of our false view of him- often commanding and demanding that he answer our prayers or keep his "promises" that aren't actually promises to us, pointing out that "The Bible’s list of those whose requests were refused by God is impressive." (pg. 44) and included Jesus Christ himself! He touches on the issue of God's "reliability". In this section, Dr. Koessler states: "Failed expectation lies at the heart of every disappointment... Disappointments like these are such a common experience in life, you would think that we would be used to them. But things are different when it comes to God. We expect better treatment from Him. We know that people can be fickle... God is not like that. We may not know much about theology, but at least we know this much: God is not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19). Yet this good theology sometimes leads to bad practice. It causes us to confuse reliability with predictability. Because we think that God’s mind and ours are the same, we set goals for God. We know what we want and so we put it in the mouth of God. We let our desires govern our expectation." (Pg. 51-52) In other words, just because God is faithful doesn't mean he is predictable and just because he is reliable doesn't mean he will always answer our prayers the way we want him too. This doesn't seem all that revolutionary- but as Dr. Koessler points out, when it comes to situations like these with God, we just can't seem to stomach that God would do anything but give us exactly what we want. Which leads us to...surprise! More disappointment. Throughout the book, John Koessler hits on just about every major cause of disappointment in the Christian life and holds a mirror up to us to show us our glaring hypocrisy and the total beauty and faithfulness of our God- even when we don't like what that practically looks like. Koessler hits the nail on the head on many of the underlying presuppositions we have about how God works. In his chapter The Awkward Consersation of Prayer, he addresses the topic of the "amount" of faith one has in praying and how that effects the results of our faith. "A mere grain of faith is sufcient in prayer not because my faith is more powerful than my need, but because God is more powerful than my faith." (pg. 67) Koessler also poignantly confronts the issue that our "moral standing before God" has anything to do with how God responds and relates to us as his children: "We are tempted to think that righteousness is the condition we must be in to be blessed. Jesus says the opposite." (pg. 106) I think my favorite chapter in the book is Chapter 9: The Trajectory of Worship: When We Hate the Music at Our Church. I love this chapter simply because it so clearly shows Dr. Koesslers honesty about an issue that I have heard him "rant" about dozens of times in class. And it's fantastic. Koessler talks specifically to the past generations in this chapter who may be disappointed by the direction church worship has gone in. He says: "...I find that I have reached a stage in life where most of the music I hear in church is “their” music, whoever “they” are. That is to say, I have reached that stage in life where most of the music I hear in church annoys me...Indeed, I think of myself as an eclectic...The stations on my car radio are set to classical, country, oldies, rock-‘n’-roll, and even Christian music. I think of myself as someone who has been baptized by immersion in the waters of musical diversity. Yet somehow when Sunday comes, all my musical sophistication dissolves and I am reduced to that most primitive test of aesthetic values: “I may not know what art is, but I know what I like.” ...When the worship leader reminds me that worship “isn’t about me,” I try to take it to heart. I really do. Nevertheless, more often than not, I walk into church hoping to be a worshiper but leave a curmudgeon. A chastened curmudgeon. A repentant curmudgeon. But a curmudgeon nonetheless." (pg. 138) Fantastic, right? (all the old folks just said "Amen!") And in this same chapter, Koessler touches on perhaps one of the most pertinent issues in evangelical Christianity- our facades. The need to mask who we are, what we are feeling, or where we are at in our faith or life. This is not only dangerous but it is, like most of what we do, deceptive. It's not what God expects of his Church. "The pressure for Christians to present a bright and cheery face to the world does not come from God. If you doubt this, read the Beatitudes." (pg.143) The book comes to its conclusion with a beautiful chapter entitled A Happy Ending: When Heaven Becomes a Real Place. In this final chapter, Dr. Koessler calls us to draw our attention to the grand hope of all Christians- the soon coming day when heaven and earth will be fully subject to the rule and reign of Christ and all of our disappointments will fade into oblivion as we gaze upon the hope of all creation- the victorious and reigning Christ. "Here, then, is the happy ending to our story and the ultimate remedy for our disappointment. The Bible promises that one day the division between heaven and earth will finally be removed. The result will not be the elimination of one or the other but a marriage between the two. The book of Revelation pictures a day when heaven and earth will be made new and the city of God will descend from heaven “prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev. 21:1–2)." (pg. 160) Overall, John Koesslers book is thoroughly biblical, shockingly honest, deeply relateable, hilariously witty, and gloriously sentimental. The book is directed to a generally evangelical audience and may not be entirely "appreciated" by the so-called "broader Christian community". But for those who encounter this book, they will find a liberation for their deeply suppressed feelings about God, faith, church, and life in general as well as a solidly biblical foundation to rethink their view of God, faith, and disappointment. This book will be helpful to countless numbers of Christians because of Dr. John Koesslers transparency and openness.