Three Ways God Uses Relational Disappointments
by Ellen Dykas
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God uses disappointments in powerful ways in our lives, if we’ll receive it! As I type this, I’m facing some disappointment in a relationship, and feel sad. Nestled in the melancholy cloud over my heart is an assurance that He is at work in me, His workmanship, whom He has created for specific good works. Have you ever realized that walking by faith, in obedience to God and with selfless love in the midst of relational disappointment is included in the “good works, which God prepared” for each of us?
Here are three ways God can use disappointment in our lives. When I remember these, and ponder and pray about my circumstances (including TODAY), it rescues me from sliding into a pit of self-pity. My eyes are drawn back to Christ, my relationship redeemer, and He gives me hope and comfort to keep pressing forward in loving people, rather than avoiding or self-protecting.
1. God uses disappointment to draw us to Himself. When people fail us, or are oblivious to our needs, or unable to give us the love we crave, this is always an invitation to draw near to Christ. God may be pruning us from selfishness, or removing a person who actually is a distraction rather than inspiration for our spiritual journey. When you experience the trial of hurt, betrayal or disappointment with a person, remember,
“…in affliction abide in Christ. When you see it coming, meet it in Christ; when it is come, feel that you are more in Christ than in it, for He is nearer you than affliction ever can be; when it is passing, still abide in Him. And let the one thought of the Saviour, as He speaks of the pruning, and the one desire of the Father, as He does the pruning, be yours too: "Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit.
-Andrew Murray, “Abide in Christ"
2. God uses disappointment to detach us from idols. John 15 describes the pruning process done in our lives by our Father, the Gardener or Vinedresser. Sometimes we experience disappointment as a fruit of God intervening in a relationship that has become a god or distraction to us.
What I have in mind here is expressed beautifully by Tim Keller.
“When you feel the steel, cling to the Vine. The Vinedresser never cuts something away unless it is a gain to lose because it would be a loss to keep. There are no random strokes! Trust your Father, knowing you don’t know the whole picture of what He is up to.”
Quote from sermon on John 15 by Tim Keller; specific sermon unknown.
3. God uses disappointment to guard His Ephesians 2:10 purposes for us. God has ‘kept’ me single for His purposes. I’m confident of this and yet, this assurance hasn’t protected me from feeling painful loss and disappointment. There have been men in my life along the journey who have pursued me, but I wasn’t drawn to respond to their pursuit. There have been a few for whom my heart ‘awakened’ towards, but they didn’t reciprocate. God has used the freedom that singleness gives me to send me out into amazing, fruitful opportunities of ministry all over the world. And the men? He’s had beautiful purposes for them in bringing them to the women they married. God has kept me, and them, in the path marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).
Jesus, open my eyes to what You are doing in my life, as I set my heart’s gaze upon You. Help me to trust that You give, takeaway and step-in-between in my relationships only for Your glory, my good, and because You love me. Amen.
Ellen Dykas: Since 2007 Ellen has served Women’s Ministry Coordinator at Harvest.USA. Before that, she served as a missionary and member of the missions’ staff at her church in St. Louis. Ellen delights to teach God’s word and come alongside women in their spiritual journey.