God And Disappointment

Some years back Christians started talking about how God could disappoint us and how honest it was to admit that, how right it was for us to tell God when we were angry with Him. I’ve written a number of posts on the subject (here and here are two, and the second has links to three others, if you care to read more), so I don’t want to spend a lot of time on that aspect of disappointment and God.

Let me introduce my thoughts on that aspect of the topic with a quote from one of the articles:

Please understand, I’m aware that a believer can go through a crisis of doubt, especially when difficulties arise, but the new thinking seems to be that to be mad at God is normal, even somehow healthy, and certainly understandable.

Today I came across a verse in Lamentations I had marked:

Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Offer complaint in view of his sin?
– Lamentations 3:39

In the margin of my Bible I wrote “Satan counters with his great lie—man is good so that gives the feel of justice in complaining to God.” Or against God. After all, if man is good, then he doesn’t deserve the consequences of sin he must live with—sickness, pollution, crime, cruelty, hatred, death. We are, instead, innocent victims of God’s inexplicable abuse of His omnipotence. And of course we should be mad about it.

Complaining against God has two problems: 1) only someone who views himself as an equal takes it as his right that he can complain (face to face) when he is dissatisfied. So complaining against God is a way of bringing Him down from His position of sovereignty; 2) only someone who believes he deserves better, complains. Hence, we are elevating humankind above the assessment God gave—that we are sinners and that the wages for our sin is death.

No, we say, when we shake our fists at God, we deserve better. Not death. And not pain or suffering or hardship or abuse or trauma or tragedy or illness or anything that might lead to death. We deserve life and happiness and wholeness and comfort.

Why do we believe such things? Possibly two disparate answers: 1) we long for, in our heart of hearts, the relationship with God that we lost at the Fall; 2) our culture is selling us on the idea that we are good, not sinful, and therefore deserving of much more than what God has told us is our destiny apart from faith in His Son.

In truth, both possibilities might play a part. But I do see the culture crowding out the truth of God. The latest twist to our thinking about us and God comes in a strange reversal. The new line of thinking is that God is not disappointed in us. There are any number of articles online in the last couple years that affirm this: “No, God Is Not Disappointed in You,” “Is God Disappointed In Me? – Lies Young Women Believe,” “Father God Is Not Disappointed In Us,” to name a few.

One thing I found interesting in several of these was the focus on our faults, failings, mistakes, even issues. Yes, there was also mention of sin, but not of repentance, and only a nod at confession. The idea seems to be that our greatest danger is to keep beating ourselves up for our wrongdoing:

Our souls are wearied by the weights we put on ourselves. We are often dried up by self-criticisms and judgement. We try to motivate ourselves with fear and shame—the idea that we are bad people until we change. But that tactic simply isn’t effective.

Staying in shame keeps us stuck. And God knows this. So He chooses to motivate us by giving us knowledge of who we really are, and awareness of His unconditional kindness (excerpt from “No, God Is Not Disappointed in You”).

Well, there are numerous problems in this thinking. First is perhaps a lack of Biblical knowledge. If someone’s soul is wearied and weighed down by what we put on ourselves, ought we not repent of taking on what is not ours to take? After all, Jesus said His yoke was easy, and His burden light. Any heaviness simply does not belong!

Secondly, our problem is not merely to find what is effective. The idea that whatever works is right, undermines God’s authority.

Third, God is not our cheerleader, motivating us from the sidelines.

Fourth, God does tell us in His word exactly who we are: sinners. Sinners! We are not wonderful people deserving of salvation. God saved us while we were yet sinners. He saved us because of His love. We have nothing with which to commend ourselves.

I can understand people weighing themselves down with burdens if they think they have something they need to do to be more acceptable to God. But clearly, Scripture says more than once, our righteousness is nothing but despicable trash. Rubbish. Filthy rags.

The way out of shame is not talking ourselves into believing that God sees us as beautiful or worthy. God sees us for who we actually are: sinners. He loves us, not because we are lovable. We aren’t.

Nevertheless, by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, God extends His love to us. Why? Because He is love.

In so doing, He brings about a remarkable transformation in us, which is the great glory of salvation, and something this fallacious idea mars. We who were slaves to sin become children of God. We who were chained to the law of sin and of death have been released to walk in newness of life. We who have no righteousness of our own are now clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

But all this is God’s doing.

We are redeemed and made spiritually whole. Our debt is paid. Our sins forgiven. We are now heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

But it’s all Christ. Not our doing. Nothing we can take credit for. Nothing we can pat ourselves on the backs for and say, God loves me because I’m worth it.

My worth comes only as a result of what God has done on my behalf. He did not sacrifice Himself because of my goodness or value.

Here’s the point in bringing these two ideas together. In our day, belief in God has eroded. We have called into question the authority of Scripture, God’s existence, even the belief that Jesus actually lived. We have steadily brought God down. But in more recent times we have begun the process of lifting humankind up.

So now Christians will tell us that it’s OK for us to be disappointed with God but that God is never disappointed with us.

And who again is the one who lives in holiness?

We’re getting truth backwards.

I realize the argument that God is not disappointed with us draws from the truth about His self-sufficiency and from the sufficiency of Christ. Like any error, there’s enough truth in this idea to make it sound plausible.

But lest this post turns into a book, let me end by asking this: if God cannot be disappointed with us, why does Scripture tell believers not to grieve the Holy Spirit?

Advertisements
Published in: on March 30, 2017 at 5:50 pm  Comments (15)  
Tags: , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/god-and-disappointment/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for this. Read it to my husband who really liked it as we’ve been hearing these ideas being bandied about lately! Bless you, Rosanne Croft

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rosanne. It’s a trend that saddens me because we are telling this subtle lie about God by suggesting that holiness doesn’t really matter to Him. I know a lot of people don’t intend to give that message when they say God isn’t disappointed with us ever, but that can easily be what others hear.

      Appreciate your response. And thanks for sharing the article with your husband. 🙂

      Becky

      Like

  2. Something that might help is to look at the definitions of the word “disappoint.” It means to frustrate,thwart, and shame, to surprise and betray, to defeat, to be unequipped and confounded.

    Ironically the idea that we can disappoint God actually stems from pride, and a desire to elevate man above God. We’re saying that little old us have the power to thwart and frustrate God. We’re saying we’re capable of shaming and embarrassing Him. We’re saying we can surprise Him, catch Him off guard, and force Him to change His plans.

    The Greek is kataischuno, to put to shame. The Hebrew is, confounded befuddled. To disappoint actually means to defeat, to thwart, to shame as in to cause to lose a battle.

    These are the words I often call trying to top God from the bottom. They can be sneaky little buggers, but they all revolve around a false idea that we can control God, that we have the power to manipulate Him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • IB, maybe we see this differently because we’re using different dictionaries. Mine says disappoint means “fail to fulfill the hopes or expectations of (someone).” I’m not using the Greek definition because Scripture doesn’t use the word in a context such as we are.

      I do believe God loves His children, that He’s wrapped us in His robe of righteousness, that He has cast our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. I think all those things speak to our justification. But when it comes to sanctification, we can grieve the Holy Spirit.

      The context of that statement in Ephesians is a number of commandments related to how we are to treat others: be angry and don’t sin, don’t steal but labor instead, eliminate unwholesome words from your speech. And then, Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit, followed by a few more relational commandments.

      Is grieving the Holy Spirit simply one of those or does it mark God’s response to us when we fail to obey the others? I’m not sure.

      While Scripture sometimes paints God in human terms so we can better understand, I think there’s no doubt He has emotion. After all, we’re made in His image. Plus He tells us He loves and that He is jealous, that He is even wrathful.

      He said if we love Him we’ll keep His commandments. So if we don’t keep His commandments, essentially saying, I don’t love you, does that not grieve the heart of God?

      Jesus said God would have gathered the people of Israel like a chicken, her brood, but they would now. Does God have no emotional response to that rejection?

      He says clearly in His word He wants us to walk in a way that would please Him. If we walk in a way that is contrary to that way, is He not then displeased?

      None of this affects our justification. We are still His children, even as I was still my father’s daughter as he marched me up the aisle at church to give me the spanking I deserved.

      Rather than seeing God as a loving Father who disciplines when we need it as an evidence of pride, I think it’s an evidence of how great God’s salvation is, how wonderful His love is. He doesn’t throw us from Hm even when we do something that causes His name to be dragged in the mud. He corrects us because we are not illegitimate children, though we certainly deserve to be treated as strangers and aliens and even as enemies.

      His love is so great He doesn’t change His mind about us and cancel justification because we are stuck in immaturity, or reverting to it. His love shines that much brighter!

      At the same time, we don’t diminish God or take something from Him by our sinful thoughts or words or actions. But we are instructed to be holy because He is holy. So how does He respond to us when we sin if not with disappointment? Why can’t God experience emotional pain, if He experienced physical pain?

      The thing I think that is the real issue is that we have forgotten how to repent or to trust God when we do repent, thinking that He is holding a grudge.

      I think Jesus taught Peter he should forgive 70X7 because He wanted us to know of God’s extensive forgiveness of us. Christ paid the price for our sins which we can never lose sight of, but our relationship with God is deeper when we keep His commandments and when we confess our sins. Why? If it matters not at all to God, why does He want us to do those things?

      Of course I have a friend who thinks we shouldn’t confess our sins since Christ forgave them, but that’s another discussion. 😉

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I read an article on The Aquila Report (aquilareport.com) just today that’s kind of related to you rs.salms It’s titled Trusting God Enough to Lament. No surprise: it’s about the Psalms. You might enjoy reading it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, my phone “lost its mind” while I typed the above. The garbled part referred to your article.

      Like

    • An interesting article, Kathleen. I do see a difference between the lament of the Psalms and the complaints of the people of Israel, though. One has God in His proper place, and the other does not. One is turning to Him and the other rebelling against Him. My concern is that in encouraging people to approach God with our “honest emotions” we are encouraging rebellion. But of course, only God knows. It’s just that it fits the paradigm shift in our culture that is elevating humankind to a place of authority over God. It can be a snag in our growth and in our witness. It can be another way Satan turns us away from God’s word. To Eve he said, Has God really said . . . ? But this seems to be coming from the opposite angle: Will God really care if you say . . . ?

      Anyway, thanks for providing more thought-provoking material.

      Becky

      Like

  4. I’ve recently been awakened to the huge impact our worldly culture is having on the Church and the way we think about God. It’s often subtle, but I’m so disappointed that Christians are mixing up the absolute truth of God as written in the Bible with human warm and fuzzy stuff that smacks of humanism. There is rampant confusion in our era. That God cannot be disappointed in us is a New Age way of thinking. Of course God can be disappointed in us, but he loves us all the same.He’s our Father. Was your father ever disappointed in you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen! I may be repeating my self here, but part of the glory of salvation is that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. And having received His grace, the glory is that He doesn’t change His mind and kick us out of the family when we mess up. If He were never disappointed when we don’t follow Him as He should, where would the glory be in His love?

      I hadn’t thought about the source of this kind of thinking, Rosanne, but I think you might be on to something.

      I do know Satan wants us to think less of God and more of ourselves, so I find it quite ironic that we are now the ones who can be disappointed (with our perfect God), but we think He can’t be disappointed with us (the people who mess up far too often).

      It is a reversal that sounds like something Satan wants us to buy into.

      Becky

      Like

      • I’ve been studying Deception, (for my novels on Mormonism) and have seen the same type of thinking seeping into the born-again Church. Satan is at work, drawing people into thinking, “Wait a minute. The Bible can’t be right about that. That’s not MY experience.” Twisting Scriptures to fit your own meaning, experience and feeling is the result.

        Remember in the Narnia Chronicle, “The Silver Chair”, when Puddleglum, held by a witch, deep underground, is being lulled to sleep with green powder on the fire? He stamps out the fire, burning his feet, and somewhere in there, when the witch declares there is no Sun above, Puddleglum states the Truth, that yes, there is a Sun and he’s going up to see it again no matter what.

        I’m afraid we are now Puddleglum. Not that people are witches, but we are being lulled by the ‘this present darkness’ into thoughts that are not of God. Believing half-lies is still believing lies.

        Like

      • “Twisting Scriptures to fit your own meaning, experience and feeling is the result.” Exactly, Rosanne. I’ll add that we also alter our understanding of Scripture to fit our cultural norms.

        For example, I remember when the great push for building self-esteem started, and suddenly Christians began saying that since the Bible said we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, then we must first learn to love ourselves.

        Yikes! We made God’s command to love others into a reason to love ourselves.

        Loving ourselves is one of those things that comes naturally. But if sin has caused us to denigrate ourselves, even hate ourselves, “learning to love ourselves” is not the answer. Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is. And it is in understanding who we are in Christ that we can come to know the new us.

        But if we continue on the path the world has set for us, we’ll never come to a clear idea of what God intends for us.

        I think this issue is similar. God wants us to “please Him in all respects.” He wants us to “be holy for I am holy.” But if we think God is just fine with the fact that we’re not holy, that we aren’t pleasing Him, why should we bother to listen and learn what He wants for us?

        OK, here I go, getting up on my soapbox again. You can tell this issue is a big one to me. 😉

        And I love your illustration of Puddleglum! (You are planning a fantasy series of your own, right?)

        Becky

        Like

  5. You have obviously given this lots of thought. I certainly agree with you commentary on our culture. If we won’t admit our sinfulness, won’t even admit such a thing as sin exists, we cannot be thankful for what Jesus did on that cross.

    We risk a new pagan era. Instead idols, we worship stuff, sex, state, and self. What is sin to people who worship man? Nothing. It does not exist. There is only the hatred of what affront to ones pride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So well said, Tom! That’s it exactly. That’s where we’re headed, I fear.

      Thanks for adding your thoughtful words. I want to post those lines on Facebook or something!

      We Christians are being sucked into a lie, I fear, a repetition of Satan’s temptation of Eve: you’ll be like God.

      If we Christians don’t expose the lie, then who?

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  6. […] 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 […]

    Like


Leave A Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: