dis·ap·point verb \ˌdis-ə-ˈpȯint\ : to make (someone) unhappy by not being as good as expected or by not doing something that was hoped for or expected
Psalm 14:3 … there is no one who does good, not even one.
I often feel like I must be such a disappointment to God. Like he must have a pained look on his face whenever he thinks about me. I wonder, is this accurate, or just an assumption informed by my own shame?
When I examine the definition of “disappoint”, I see an element of failed expectations. While the Bible teaches that God has a very high standard—perfection—the standard itself is distinctly different from God’s expectation of us. If his expectation of me was perfection, he would be overwhelmingly disappointed with me and every other human ever to walk the earth, with the notable exception of Jesus. In fact, it would seem logical that God’s expectations for all of us include failure. That seems counter-intuitive to me, but how else can you explain his intricate plan to redeem us at such a high cost to him? I don’t believe he is surprised by my need to be rescued; because his rescue is motivated by his deep love for you and me, he is heartbroken when we turn away from him. It’s this heartbreaking, this incredible love, that moves him to act in a redemptive manner toward us.
But isn’t his heartbreak basically the same as being disappointed? I think not. On the surface they sound almost interchangeable, but on closer examination they are significantly different. When God is heartbroken, he is outwardly focused on the subject of his heartbreak (you & me). Where there is disappointment, the primary focus is inward (self). Since I am often more inwardly focused, I tend to be more predisposed to disappointment than heartbreak. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for me to falsely project that God must be disappointed with me. This can taint my entire view of his motives in relationship to me. I end up with shame about who I am, which is in direct opposition to God’s perspective about who I am (Romans 8:1). When I remove this dirty lens and see God’s heart with a clear eye, it’s overwhelming to me. He is warm, inviting, open armed, loving, and merciful. He delights in me. Yes, delights!
When Jesus says, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”, I don’t hear disappointment, I hear a breaking heart. This is the heart of God seeking our redemption out of his love for us.
Dear Father, please remind me that my failures do not surprise you, but they do break your heart. Remind me of your loving, merciful demeanor which enables me to come out of darkness and walk in the light with you. Amen.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola