Between Isaacs and Samuels: The Space Where God Disappoints


“What is the name of the space where God disappoints?”

By Enuma Okoro | Twitter: @TweetEnuma

God keeps tripping over my beggar bowl and spilling its meager contents.

So I am going to stop begging.

My heart is weary from begging.

I know why Sarah did what she did with Hagar and Abraham. I know how Eli found Hannah, drunk with the pain of prayer. Right or wrong, God disappoints. Me. You. All of us at some time.

Yes. God is faithful. I know of Isaac and Samuel. God Laughs. God Hears.

But what of the space between laughter and hearing, between Isaacs and Samuels? What is the name of the space where God disappoints?

That space is the place where many people dwell, where temporary settlements and makeshift camps start to take on the permanency of home. So what is the name of that place? I want to validate the reality of that place with a name. I want us to learn to speak openly about that place and to remember the people who live there.

Where God disappoints.

Where children are not born.

Where men and women walk one-by-one instead of two-by-two.

Where loaves and fishes do not multiply.

Where the poor in spirit or body do not seem blessed.

Where the faithfulness of God seems to be just a rumor.

Who are the priests that dwell with the people between God’s laughter and God’s hearing? What are the sacraments in the nameless place where God disappoints? If nothing else, I want the bread and the wine, the faint reminder that when the body of God was broken and the blood of God was shed, and the Son of God cried out words of forsakenness, that at one time God even disappointed God.

So maybe that is the name of the place–the long sad sing-song name of “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?”

I can live with that naming because it comes from the very mouth of God. Have you heard of that place? Do you know people who live in that place? Can you serve from that place? Can you love from that place? Maybe it is possible to set up camp in that place because I know that God has been there and whatever spaces God has been in, God somehow still remains.

And I know what happens after the Golgatha cry, after Sarah’s scheming and Hannah’s weeping. God moves from disappointing and invites us to new realities, new places where we shuffle our feet reluctantly, tiptoe carefully, uncertain if we can trust the ground, if we can move from pain to healing. Uncertain if we can trust the  God who Rises, who laughs, who listens.


My dear SheLoves friends, I’d love to hear:

  • Have you ever found yourself in that space where God disappoints?
  • How have you met (or are you meeting) God in that place?
  • What do you name that place?
  • Any other thoughts or comments?


About Enuma

Enuma was born in the United States and raised in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and England. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School where she served as Director for the Center for Theological Writing. She is an author, speaker, spiritual director and continues to lead workshops and retreats on varied topics engaging the literary and visual arts, and spiritual disciplines.

Her spiritual memoir, Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert’s Search for Spiritual Community (Fresh Air Books, 2010) was a winning finalist in the 2010 USA Best Books Award and received the 2011 National Indie Excellent Book Awards Winning Finalist in “Spirituality and African-American Non-Fiction.” She is co-author with Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove of Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Okoro’s new forthcoming book, “Silence,” will be released in Summer/Fall 2012

She blogs at Reluctant Pilgrim on Patheos about women’s ways of knowing and engaging the holy. You can find her online at

Image credit: Woman with bowl, by Justin Hubbard