Can God be disappointed in us?

Straight Talk

The Question:

Some people think that God doesn’t get disappointed in us but I think he does. Which is right?

– KK From Kentucky

The Answer
Part 1: Assigning emotions to God

Assigning emotions to God (Part 1)

Disappointment implies expectations that fall short. In that sense then, God can’t be disappointed in us because he’s perfectly aware that we WILL fall short. He understands his human creation better than we understand ourselves and he has no illusions about what we are capable of.

For instance, when Jesus was popular because of all the miracles he was working, he didn’t let it go to his head, knowing how fickle people are. “But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because he did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:25)

On the other hand, thinking about the possibility of God being disappointed in us might lead someone to a scary place they don’t want to go. If he is disappointed than maybe his love slacks off? (That would be a very human reaction, wouldn’t it?) Yet we know that God is love and that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) So, better to say that God doesn’t get disappointed in us.

Our problem is that we think of disappointment and its repercussions in human terms that we sometimes assign to God as if he were just like us. As far as the word itself, I can’t find a place in scripture that links the sentiment with his reaction to us. I can link some other fairly closely related emotions though.

Regret“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6)

Anger“After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’” (Mark 3:5)

Exasperation“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34)

Personally, I think the word disappointment is not so far off the target as long as we don’t draw the conclusion when using it that God will abandon us no matter how far we fall short of expectations. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)