People will fail you, but God never will.

I said this to a friend when she sought my advice. I feared I would fail her because I knew my limitations, and she had already been betrayed and disappointment by so many people. I knew if she sought God over me, He wouldn’t fail her.

Because I fail people. Perhaps I’ve failed you. And you’ve failed people. We are human and we will disappoint others, even in our best efforts.

But God, in His greatness, majesty, love, and sovereignty, will never fail us.

Therefore, we must look to God first for our emotional, spiritual, physical, and social needs. Philippians 4:19 says God will provide all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. I pray this verse for others, especially when I don’t have an answer or advice for a difficult situation.

I appeal to the truth that God provides, and His riches are greater than human efforts. I’ve seen Him answer this prayer over and over again. It’s the reminder I need when disappointed.

Have you been disappointed by others recently? I have. As I battled discouragement, self-pity, anger, and bitterness, I reminded myself that whenever I look to others for happiness, emotional fulfillment, or self-efficacy, someone will inevitably fail me. This is true for you, too. As I took my hurt and disappointment to God, I was reminded of these 5 principles:

  1. God desires intimacy with us. God wants us to long for Him above others, even our spouses and children. However, we usually come to Him last. 
  2. God provides through that intimate relationship. Many Christians don’t take God’s provisions seriously because we’re focused too much on what we see, feel, and experience. When others disappoint us, our feelings tell us God failed us, too. We base our judgment on the experience because God’s provisions usually happen in unseen ways. A change in attitude, an internal peace, or a perspective we didn’t have before are quiet ways God speaks to us. In order to receive these intimate encounters, we have to look beyond the physical and sensory perceptions.
  3. Scripture is instrumental in meeting your needs. The Bible is living and active, sharper than a sword which judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word is the source of truth, comfort, encouragement, rebuke, and peace when our soul is weary. It’s the primary way God reveals His truth and perspective. It’s how He whispers to your heart.
  4. No one has you and I as their primary concern except God. This is a harsh reality, especially for those of us who are people-helpers or moms because we’re constantly looking out for the needs of others. Unfortunately, no one is focusing on you 24 hours/7 days a week. No one, that is, except God. When we expect others to meet our needs–a spouse, a child, a friend–we set them up for failure, and ourselves up for disappointment.
  5. Setting realistic expectations is essential. When others fail you, you may want to lash out, blame, and unleash a litany of “You should have’s.” In figuring out an appropriate response when others disappoint you, keep your expectations realistic. Healthy responses are setting boundaries, holding others accountable, and addressing underlying problems. Blaming because you want them to do something which meets your needs or expectations is not appropriate. When someone fails you, look at the expectation. Or are you blaming for something you wanted them to do?
  6. Lastly, practice self-care. You are the only one responsible for your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. Involve Christ by pursuing an intimate relationship with Him. In the practical realm, take care of yourself. Rest, eat healthy, and exercise–these are vitally important. Set healthy boundaries with others who demand things from you. Do things which bring you joy rather than waiting on a person to make you happy. Self-care is critical to your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health.

People will fail you. You’ll even fail yourself. But God will never fail you. Give Him a chance. Don’t be so self-sufficient that you don’t need God to do for you what He longs to do. 

What ways can you better respond with disappointment?

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