I was the firstborn among three children.

As the oldest, my parents had high hopes for me. I’m not sure what all those hopes were—some they never shared—but they let me know when I disappointed them. A good education was one of their hopes. They dreamed I’d do well in high school and follow that with college. Yet, I wouldn’t hear of it. I hated school. Eventually, I did attend college—and even earned post-graduate degrees—but not because my parents wanted me to.

Disappointment was the difference between my parent’s desires and my actions. Had they known I would sooner or later attend college, they may not have been disappointed. But God knows everything. How can I disappoint him? “Then they cried to the LORD again and confessed, ‘We have sinned by turning away from the LORD and worshiping the images of Baal and Ashtoreth’” (1 Samuel 12:10 NLT).

God has standards for his children as my parents did for me. In the Old Testament, the basics were the Ten Commandments. No stealing, lying, murdering, worshipping false gods, etc. In the New Testament, Jesus sums them up in just two commands: love him and love others (Matthew 22:36-40). Paul condenses it further when he maintains the entire law is summed up in one command: love your neighbor (Galatians 5:14). If God knows I’m going to fall short of any of these, can I disappoint him when I do?

The answer depends on our definition of disappointment. When it’s a feeling of surprise because something unexpected happened, the answer is no. God is never taken by surprise. On the other hand, if disappointment constitutes a feeling of being let down because we fail to reach a certain standard, then yes he can. God knows ahead of time what sins we will commit. Our actions may disappoint him, but he’s never disappointed in us as a person. We’re his creations…his children…and he loves us unconditionally.

When you disappoint God with your actions, simply confess. And then, address what needs your attention so you won’t repeat the failure.

Photo by Aaron Lee on Unsplash