Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. —John 2:23-25 NIV
We’ve now been married forty years, but I waited six long years for that wedding. We met in high school. I was 15 and he was 16. At last, the day arrived. Oh, I was so excited to finally be his wife! I had imagined it all out. We would enjoy scintillating conversations each night when he came home from work. He would love my cooking. We would never argue. We were, after all, soul mates. Are you smiling yet? You know how all those expectations turned out, don’t you? My introvert would come home tired and not want to talk much at all. My cooking was … shall we say … in need of great improvement. We had many unproductive arguments about it. Life was not all sunshine and roses. It was easy to feel disillusioned.
In the early years of our marriage we attended a church with a dynamic pastor. He was convicting and bold. He was instrumental in many key life decisions for my husband and me. We were growing in our faith. But then, the bottom fell out. The church elders discovered that he had made up a large portion of his resume. He did not have a doctorate. He was not a member of certain prestigious groups. He was not a Harvard graduate. It split the church. We were stunned. How could a man who had shown us biblical truth have lied like that? It was easy to feel disillusioned.
Google Dictionary describes it this way, “a feeling of disappointment resulting in the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.” We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We think a politician or an organization or a spouse will “make it all better”—and they don’t. Quite frankly, they can’t. Over the years I’ve discovered ways to cope in these circumstances that have sustained me in some difficult times. I offer them to you in the hope that you too will find these tips helpful when disillusionment intrudes.
- Settle in your heart and mind that only One is truly good: God Himself. All the rest of us are flawed and incapable of leading perfect lives. When I remembered that my husband was a sinner just like me, it became easier to deal with his flaws. What did I expect? The Bible says that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NASB). Did I somehow think that excluded him? This does not excuse bad behavior, his or mine, but it became a whole lot less surprising. We cannot put people on the “perfect pedestal” and expect any of them to survive up there. It’s just not fair. No one can reach a standard of perfection. We need to simply expect that times will come when people fail us.
- When individuals behave in ways that are out of character for them, our response should be a gentle one. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1 NIV). Once we have a firm grip on the truth that all of us sin, we can reach out and help those caught in sin with a kindness born of humility, knowing we also are prone to wander and at times choose a sinful response. We don’t leave them in their sin or excuse it. We do help restore them … gently.
- When individuals are frauds, perpetuating an ongoing lie, like the pastor in our long-ago church, they should, of course, be exposed and removed from their position of authority. We should pray earnestly that they come to repentance, because otherwise a very unpleasant fate awaits them. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:7-8a NIV). Regardless of the magnitude of their sin, we must pray for their repentance. In the heat of the moment we may wish them ill, but we genuinely should not wish destruction of that magnitude on anyone.
- Worship God alone. Put your trust in Him. Truly, there is no one else who is fully able to meet our needs. He alone is always consistent and never changing. Our disillusionment ultimately stems from that part of us that senses there ought to be a perfect “right” out there somewhere. When we see something tilt off course from that standard, we are frustrated. That is exactly because the One perfect Being created us—and our hearts always long for Him and for that perfection. When we give our devotion to Him alone, we can then reach out to all other humans knowing they need Him too— and disillusionments decrease.
In our passage above, Jesus was not terribly excited or impressed that the crowds suddenly loved Him when they saw His miracles. He wasn’t caught up in their hype, because He knew their enthusiasm would fade. Many would walk away when the road grew hard. They only loved the show. Jesus looked to God as His one authority. God alone directed Him. He lived to please His Father. So should we. Whenever I am disillusioned, I look up to the One who is always constant and remind myself that when I serve Him alone and look only to Him for satisfaction and direction and love and peace, all is well with my soul. That’s just how we are to live, friends, giving grace to all the other sinners out there, exposing evil, praying for each soul—and looking to God alone for perfection.
P.S. Just in case you are wondering ... now that my husband and I have had forty plus years of doing life together the meals have improved and so have our expectations of each other. We expect less and have, as a result, received so much more. It’s good to know God is the only perfect One!
Father God, how I praise You for being the perfect, flawless, righteous God of all! Forgive me when I elevate others to a status reserved only for You. Help me to fix my eyes on You and on Your good purposes and not expect others to be perfect. I need You, Lord, to help me see rightly. I love that I can trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
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