There is still some disagreement over a statement I made the other day, that “God is not disappointed in you.” I’d like to elaborate some more and I like Becky’s post the most, “God and Disappointment” , so I’ll use it as a springboard.
Probably due to how I grew up, I developed a sharp eye for power and social politics, extreme hypervigiliance, downright prophetic really. It’s a survival skill, you have to learn how to predict human behavior and identify who holds the power at any given time. I developed a keen eye for power dynamics.
It’s actually become a surprisingly good tool for understanding issues around control and how we people define and perceive God. “Topping from the bottom,” is how people attempt to emotionally manipulate, control, and influence authority when they have no power. It is just a part of human nature. Little kids are really good at it. Their entire job is about figuring out how to get what they want.
Our minds will do this too, the way we perceive things, the way we think about things. We’re always seeking to confirm our own biases, to control and rationalize our experiences.
When we’re looking at God, God is sovereign, absolute, He holds all the cards. There are no chinks in that armor, no weaknesses. He is perfect and Holy. He holds all the power, all the time, except for that which He may have gifted us, granted us, assigned to us.
To disappoint God is to place Him in a position of potential weakness and defeat. That’s what disappointment is, it is to be thwarted, shamed, conquered, and defeated. Powerlessness, not victory. Disappointment goes along well with “deflated.” Us little human creatures lack the power to deflate a sovereign God.
Hence, God is not disappointed in you.
Not once in the bible is the word “disappointed” used in context of God feeling disappointed in us. God cannot be disappointed, because God cannot be shamed, defeated, or thwarted. The Greek for disappointment is “kataischuno,” to put to shame. The Hebrew is, confounded, befuddled. Human behavior does not confound and befuddle God. It confounds and befuddles me, but I am not God. God is sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
Here’s one problem with believing that God can be disappointed with you. It’s a pride trap. It’s an idea that declares you have the ability to “surprise, confound, and defeat God.” A God who can be disappointed in you, is a God who can also be punished and manipulated by using disappointment as a weapon, as a tool of defiance. I now have the power to hurt the Creator of the universe Himself. Who you can hurt, you can also punish and control.
This is one reason why legalism always fails us. Our Salvation is soon built upon our own power and perceived ability to manipulate, control, and influence God. You disappoint God enough, there is no longer any carrot to seek, no reason not to just turn it into a real art form. I think the old testament offers us plenty examples of people doing exactly that.
We cannot surprise God. We cannot shock Him. We cannot disappoint Him, either. He already sees, He already knows us. He knows Peter will deny Christ and He already knows to say, “Peter do you love me,” three times in perfect measure. In John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So God already has a plan to redeem us before we even know we need redemption. “While we were yet sinners, He died for us.”
Becky said something interesting here, “So complaining against God is a way of bringing Him down from His position of sovereignty.” Ironically, I think the precise opposite is true. While endless murmuring, complaining, are certainly undesirable, we lack the power to bring God down from His position of sovereignty. I even say that to entertain that as an option, is to once again suggest that we people have the ability to punish, influence, or hurt God. God is not fragile, He is not harmed by our murmuring, we are. His sovereignty is well, sovereign, and not impacted by our recognition or denial of it. Only we are hurt by that.
We lack the power to bring Him down from His position of sovereignty.
When God is your sovereign authority, God is precisely who you should…collapse in hysterics in front of. I call it collapsing at the foot of a King. I am not suggesting that it is good to rail against God, simply that He cannot be hurt by our tantrums. We only hurt ourselves… or sometimes even receive the answers we seek.
Can you grieve the Holy Spirit? Of course. You can quench the Holy Spirit, too. You can harden your heart, silence His voice, feel far from His presence, but these things do absolutely nothing the threaten the sovereignty of God or to cause Him disappointment.
Becky mentions the word shame. Abuse creates shame, lots of it, and shame is actually the flip side of pride. Where there is no self-esteem left, there are often shards of pride piled up high like mountains of broken glass. People with no self-esteem are not humble, that is false modesty. To be humble is actually to be shameless because where there is no pride, there can be no shame. It’s not self-esteem that’s the problem, it’s the “self.” High or low, it’s still self, pride.
Legalism always fails us because it is based on our will, on our false belief that we can control our relationship with God. Humility comes from completely setting down all your pride, realizing that God cannot be controlled or influenced in any way, and then aligning ourselves to His will. Ironically this same idea is where I deviated from Paul Young in his book, “Lies We Believe About God.”
Young still believes that God actually submits Himself to us in some way. Those who cling to the idea that we have the power to disappoint God, do the same thing. Those ideas stem from residual pride, from a belief that we are in control of our own relationship with God, that His assessment of us on the cross is not stable, and that we can still influence Him for good or ill.
Becky says, “The way out of shame is not talking ourselves into believing that God sees us as beautiful or worthy.” True! But ironically the cure for shame is grace, and grace saw us as beautiful and worthy. Grace is to be found in complete and total surrender to the cross. Full acceptance of the absolute sovereignty of God. That’s really scary, far scarier than perpetually fearing disappointing Him, BUT, fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.
A child of wrath will behave like a child of wrath, but a child of grace will behave like a child of grace. God is not seeking to control us, He’s seeking to completely transform us.
Does God care about us? Absolutely.