People disappoint us all the time. Friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, church members…the list goes on and on. Because of things they say or do—or fail to say or do—people let us down on a regular basis.
David records the following lament in Psalm 55:12—“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.”
It hurts when people disappoint us, and when they do, we are left to decide how to respond. The Bible offers several different options.
Sometimes you have to endure it. David had been nothing but supportive of King Saul, but Saul returned the favor by trying to kill David. David had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, and few would have blamed him if he did. But David refused to lift his hand against the king. He chose instead to endure Saul’s disappointing behavior.
At other times you might go your separate ways. Paul and Barnabas got into a sharp dispute over whether or not they should take John Mark with them on their next missionary journey. These two leaders were no doubt disappointed with each other that they could not come to an agreement on this issue. They decided to split up and go their separate ways. Sometimes this is the best option when someone lets you down.
Another choice would be to rebuke the one who has disappointed you. Jesus was no doubt disheartened when Peter vehemently questioned the Lord’s plan to go to the cross. Jesus’ words, “Get behind me, Satan!” would no doubt ring in Peter’s ears for some time to come. However, Peter would eventually get his priorities aligned with God’s because Jesus chose to rebuke him.
Still another option in responding to those who disappoint you is to teach them a better way. His disciples repeatedly disappointed Jesus with their requests for places of prominence in his kingdom. He consistently met their disappointing behavior with lessons on humility, service and putting others first.
Perhaps the best way to deal with those who disappoint you is to forgive them. Jesus must have been terribly disappointed with the Jewish leaders’ response to the arrival of their Messiah. Instead of giving him the welcome he should have received, they conspired to have him put to death. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11). And Jesus responded by saying, “…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34).
So, we see that there are several ways to deal with people when they disappoint you. It takes wisdom and discernment to decide the best approach to take, so let’s take some time to pray and reflect before we make those decisions.
Here are two things to keep in mind. First, remember that we sometimes disappoint others. So let’s treat others the way that we would want to be treated in that kind of a situation. Second, God will never disappoint us, so let’s trust him to see us through any and every situation we might find ourselves in.