Being involved in any relationship opens us up to disappointment. Whether you are a parent, child, sibling, employee, church member, or friend you have lived through relational disappointments. Investing in others becomes increasingly difficult when our eyes have become distorted through the brokenhearted tears of disappointment. How does Scripture encourage us to walk through times of brokenheartedness? How does God instruct us to deal with disappointment in relationships?
Perhaps you are living vicariously through your children or you depend too much on how your spouse responds to you. Maybe you've made an idol out of a person in authority over you and you’ve come to expect perfection from them. Each of these scenarios is a blueprint for disappointment.
Our adult children are bound to make choices that differ from our advice…and sometimes they should. Whether our advice is sound or not, we know that every person needs to learn lessons in God’s timing and in their own way. Don’t forget about the words of wisdom you chose to ignore when you were young!
Plus, it isn’t our plans that we desire for our children anyway. Their future belongs to God. Trust that God is able to keep that which you have given over to him. Unlike some of us, God is a completer. He has no problem finishing what he has started. After all, we are promised in Phil. 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Your job is to live out your convictions before your children. Put the hand of your children in the hand of the Savior whenever you can and trust that he will do what only he can do. You are not your children’s Savior and this is a good thing. God is able, we are limited. Let him be limitless in your kid’s lives.
Although our spouse should add value to our lives and build us up in the admonition of the Lord, we are not to look to our relationship with them to provide what God intends for us to receive from him. If our self-worth is solely contained in any relationship outside of our relationship with the Lord, we have misplaced our hope and will without doubt be disappointed.
When we meditate on how God sees us, we set ourselves and others free from the burden of perfection; it won’t be nearly as devastating if our spouse has forgotten our birthday, doesn’t comment on our appearance, or has become distracted and therefore hasn’t been as affirming as they could be. Our value and worth needs to be found in who God says that we are.
Whether it be a leader at church, at work, or at school, at some point we are likely to be disheartened by following their lead. Perhaps we feel overlooked for some type of promotion or recognition. Maybe we’ve expected spiritual perfection and when our leader has proven to be human, we feel lost or dismayed. Whatever the case, we must allow our leaders to be human and make mistakes without our world being shaken to destruction. Perfect trust and complete reverence is reserved for God alone.
Paul commands us to follow his example, as he follows the example of Christ (I Cor. 11:1). This instruction indicates that there may be times our leaders are not following Christ. When this happens, we are not to follow their un-Christlike behavior. Ultimately, our actions should be based upon our relationship with Christ, knowing him and knowing his reactions. When we live in this manner, we place our hope where it belongs and guard our hearts from disappointment.
Many times when I’m disappointed in a relationship it is because I am trying to control something that I have no authority over. Once we know that we have fulfilled our responsibility in any relationship, we must turn over the care of it to God. Scripture instructs us,
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
There is no peace in disappointment. Once we know that we have fulfilled our relational duties in kindness and love, it is time to cast the care of the situation where it belongs: into the hands of our loving Savior.
When we are disappointed by a relationship, we often experience confusion about our ongoing role in the relationship. We might feel that someone has not kept their end of the bargain and we don’t know where we stand as a result. Disappointment can bring disillusionment. We just don’t know who we are or who we should be in the current situation. During these times we have the unique opportunity to reappoint ourselves. We must always use God's thoughts and ways as a compass to redirect our gaze onto him. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He will direct us through any disappointment and bring us to the other side when we put our trust in him. The psalmist says,
"From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy"(Psalm 61:2-3).
Reorient yourself to be found in God, it is only in him that we are free from all disappointment.
We are not meant to experience total satisfaction from any relationship other than the one with our creator. When we choose to remember this, we place the correct pressure on our other relationships. Our expectations are fixed on God rather than on others; and our hope is found in him.
"And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love" (Romans 5:5).
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Dr. Robert Ritzema