It strikes me that a lot of people feel like they have disappointed God. Some walk through life with a constant nagging feeling of having “let the Big Guy down.” Others have walked away from faith entirely with the feeling that they could never live up to God’s expectations – get out of the game before I disappoint him. Others still, keep working at it – keep trying to “make God proud.” They have developed coping mechanisms for dealing with the inevitable pain of feeling like they have disappointed God. It may be that all of the above get it wrong. My question: Is it even possible to disappoint God?
What Is Disappointment?
Disappointment (according to Webster) means “to fail to fulfill the hopes, expectations or wishes of.” So, disappointment requires a wish, an expectation, or a hope on the part of the one being disappointed (in this case, God). However, to have a “hope,” a “wish,” or an “expectation” means that the person is uncertain of the future.
- God “expected” me to do this, but I did do it. And God was “surprised” when I didn’t do what he thought I was going to do? I doubt it.
- God “hoped” that I would turn out a certain way, but it didn’t happen the way he “hoped” it would? Um … No.
- God “wished” that things would be different with me, but alas, I made bad choices and it didn’t turn out the way God wished it had? Don’t make me laugh.
God and Disappointment
You see – it’s impossible to disappoint God (in the classic sense of disappointment) because God is omniscient – a fancy word that means “all-knowing.” There is nothing that he doesn’t know. There is nothing that surprises him.
As it turns out, disappointment (the way Webster defines it) is dependent on linear time. And God is not limited by time – he operates outside of time.
So we walk through life with these feelings of guilt and shame and even self-loathing because we have a basic theological misunderstanding of who God is, how he relates to us, and how he loves us. We dont’ understand his omniscience.
We think of God in human terms. It’s possible for me to be disappointed by my children, for instance, only because from their birth I have had hopes and dreams and wishes for them that may or may not come true (because I don’t know the future). When things don’t turn out the way I had hoped, I’m disappointed. Fortunately, God is not like me (can we all say “amen!”).
God’s One Desire
I don’t know all the ramifications of God’s omniscience, but one thing I do know – he loves you with a perfect, unfailing, and unconditional love (Rom. 5:8) – an eternal love (1 Chron. 16:34; Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). In other words, his love transcends time.
God’s one desire is to be in a relationship with you. Jesus defined eternal life when he said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
There it is. Nothing about rules or laws or hopes or dreams or expectations. It’s just relationship. It’s always been about love. As long as your heart longs for that love relationship, it may very well be impossible for you to ever disappoint God.