Ever Feel Like God Is Disappointed in You?

Tullian Tchividjian
Tullian Tchividjian

One night about 18 months ago when I was putting Genna to bed, I asked her, “Honey, how do you think God feels about you?” Her immediate response was, “Disappointed.” After some probing, I realized that she wasn’t feeling convicted about any particular sin, she simply sees God as someone whose feelings toward her are basically unhappy ones. She knows that God is perfect and that she is imperfect—she understands that God is holy and that she is sinful—and so it only makes sense to her that God is perpetually displeased with her.

Seizing an opportunity to preach the gospel to my daughter, I scrambled in my mind for an illustration that might help an 11-year-old grasp the liberating power of Christ’s imputed righteousness.

I said, “Imagine some stranger (let’s call him Steven) comes walking down our street right about the time Mommy is making dinner. He walks up our driveway, through our front door (without knocking), into our kitchen, looks at mommy and asks, ‘What’s for dinner?’ Now, you and I both know that Mommy is hospitable. But a complete stranger walking in our house would freak her out. She’d probably say something like, ‘Who are you? And if you don’t turn around and leave right now I’m going to call the police.’”

I continued, “Now imagine that same stranger comes walking down our street around dinner time with your older brother. The two of them together walk up our driveway, through the front door, and into our kitchen. Your brother looks at Mommy with his arm around his friend and says, ‘Mom, this is my friend Steven. Can he stay for dinner?’ Her response would be totally different, wouldn’t it? She would say something like, ‘Nice to meet you Steven. Of course you can have dinner with us.’ Then she’d get another place-setting and treat Steven like a son at our table. Why? Because he was with our son.”

Many Christians (like my daughter) think that God is perpetually disappointed with them. But because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, God sees us as friends and children, not as enemies and strangers. God is a good Father and because Jesus brings us with him, God’s affection for us is unchanging and his approval of us is forever.

Originally published September 09, 2014.