Those of you who have been visiting recently know that I’ve been talking about relationships. Having recently left a church we were a part of for over 10 years, I’m in a season of change.
But I’m not the only one. Relationships, like everything else in life, are fluid. They are always changing. A single person has a friend who marries and feels left out of their new life. A job change means no more lunches with the co-worker you had become close to. A baby comes and you feel distant from friends your full life can’t accommodate as much anymore. A family member dies and grief becomes a daily struggle. A spouse leaves and others are left at home disoriented and hurting. A child moves away for work or college and the family dynamics adjust to someone missing. A close friend decides to leave your church for another.
I’ve been asking the Lord to give me a more biblical perspective on changing relationships. Why do I too often balk at this? What does this say about my relationship with and trust of Him? Why do changing relationships tempt me to feel anxious?
I was reading this weekend about Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. Peter, the one who said he would never turn on Jesus did exactly what Jesus said He would do: he rejected and denied Him. What a challenging thing for Jesus to face in a relationship He had prized and into which He invested so much of Himself.
How did Jesus handle this change? After He rose from the dead a few days after Peter’s blatant denial (which I’m sure I would have joined him in if I had been there) an angel told some ladies to find the disciples “and Peter” to tell them He was alive. Imagine what Peter must have felt when he heard that Jesus had specifically wanted him — the disloyal one who had boldly proclaimed his undying affection — to hear this news.
Jesus knew something He’s been reminding me of recently: God is the only One that never changes. People and relationships change but He doesn’t. He is the only one that will always be there; never turn on us; never leave or forsake us; never move away or die or allow sin to dissuade Him from loving.
But think about it: While these truths apply to us, there was a time they didn’t apply to His own son. When Jesus hung naked on the cross for you and me God turned from His son. He forsook Him and poured out vicious wrath onto Him for things He didn’t do. Their eternal relationship of interrupted and sinless fellowship changed in those hours. Jesus knew it was coming, but He still cried out for all of eternity to hear: “Why have you forsaken me?”
Peter’s denial was nothing compared to what Jesus must have felt when His own Father turned His face away.
But because of the cross and God’s willingness to reject His son during those hours, we can embrace changing relationships. When change comes we can see it as a reminder that there is one relationship that will never, ever change. Whether the changes in our lives come as expected or painfully unwelcomed, because God rejected His son on our behalf, we who are Christians will always enjoy His unfailing love, nearness, favor and friendship. We can never justifiably charge God with forsaking us.
Are you experiencing the disorientation or pain of broken or changing relationships? I pray that God will use this tough time to remind you, along with me:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).