How to Find Biblical Joy When the Church Disappoints You
By Gina Smith, Crosswalk.com
"In the midst of the emotional and spiritual upset that occurs when a church hurts or disappoints us, we tend to lose sight of the fact that the local church is merely a collection of people on a challenging journey - a group of people that are involved in a long-term transformation process." - George Barna
Have you had an experience with people in the Church that has caused you to become disappointed, disillusioned, or hurt? When it comes to being a part of the Church, it's easy to have expectations of how we should be treated or what we should experience when we walk through the front doors. When our experience doesn't match those expectations, it can be confusing.
If you are tempted to think that there is no hope for the Church today, take some time to read through the New Testament, and you will see that the problems we experience today were present back then as well. The book of Galatians reveals that the Church was dealing with legalism. The book of Colossians addresses heresy, and 1 and 2 Corinthians confront human pride and religious activity done with wrong motives.
I have experienced being disappointed by people in the Church. I have felt disillusioned and have wondered if I even want to walk through the church doors again. Thankfully, God has faithfully taught me through those circumstances and kept me from giving up. The Church is a flawed place, and so much damage has been done in the name of Jesus, but God still loves His Church and is still using it mightily.
DON'T LOSE HOPE!
There ARE many faithful believers who are striving to walk in biblical truth and who want to persevere in their faith. God is still alive and active in the lives of believers, and even though it can be easy to focus on those who have hurt us or haven't represented God well, we need to focus on God, His character, His purpose, and His calling. We must be reminded that we are all in the process of growth and learning, no matter how old we are.
Verses to Help You When the Church Disappoints You
"…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." – 2 Chronicles 20:12
Focus on God. Ask God to help you to take your eyes off those who have hurt you and to help you focus on Him. You may be disappointed and hurt by God's people, but when we are overwhelmed, confused, and disappointed, we must fix our eyes on the one who will never let us down. Tell God, "I don't understand how they could do what they did. They judged me and turned against me. I'm overwhelmed, but I know this, my eyes are fixed on you, and I'm trusting in you."
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-15
Forgive. Ask God to help you forgive those who hurt and disappointed you. The reality is that we, at some point in our lives, have probably hurt someone "in the name of Jesus ."At least, I know I have! Was I sincere? Yes. Did I believe I was doing the right thing? Of course. But I have had to ask for forgiveness more times than I can count, and I probably will have to in the future. With this in mind, we need to work towards having a forgiving heart towards those who have disappointed us.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!" Psalms 119:105
Read the Word. Reliance on God's Word is the only way we will be able to live the Christian life successfully. If we take time to see things through a biblical lens, we will be reminded that we will never find peace if we focus on the imperfect Church. We must focus on our perfect, never changing, never failing God, and that will only happen when we are abiding in Him, spending time in His Word, and regularly communicating with Him in prayer.
What Good Is There When the Church Disappoints You
- This is an opportunity to spend quiet time alone with God and ask him to help you to be sensitive to his Spirit. We can ask God to show us any time we may have hurt another person "in the name of Jesus," and then we can contact them and ask for forgiveness.
- This is an opportunity to ask God to expose what is in your heart and show you how you view others. Do you see each person you come in contact with as someone who needs to be seen, heard, valued, and made in the image of God? Do you treat them the way God would have you treat his people?
- This is an opportunity to study the Prayer of Lament and to make it a part of your daily prayer life. Pour out your heart to God. Tell him how you feel and about all that has happened. Be honest with him. Then fix your eyes on him, trust in him, and find your hope in him.
Find Biblical Joy When the Church Disappoints You by Focusing on God
Thank Him For Who He Is: Father, you are Adonai - (Lord or Master). You are sovereign over all, and you are the only God and Lord of my life. You are "good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all of them that call upon you." (Psalm 86:5) Thank you for lavishing me with grace and forgiving me. Help me to be able to follow your example and forgive those who have disappointed me.
Thank Him For His Faithfulness: Father, thank you for being faithful. Man will hurt and disappoint me, and I will do the same to others. You are the only One who is completely faithful and can be trusted fully. Please remind me of this when I am tempted to give up on the Church or those around me.
Thank Him for His Promises: Father, thank you for your promise that even though we "see in a mirror dimly…" (1 Corinthians 13:12), we will one day be with you and will see you "face to face… and then we will "know fully, even as we have been fully known." Thank you that one day we will have a full knowledge of You, who you are, and what is right and wrong. There will be no more division among your people, only unity from having full knowledge of You.
Thank Him For His Provisions: Father, thank you for providing us with "the Church," your people. Help me to persevere with the Church and not give up because some of its members have hurt me. Please enable me to act in obedience to Hebrews 10:25 and "not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing," Please enable me to encourage the Church "all the more as I see the day approaching."
This article is part of a series by Gina Smith on biblical joy. Here are more of her articles:
How to Find Biblical Joy When You Battle Depression
Finding Biblical Joy in Loneliness
How to Find Biblical Joy When Life Doesn’t Look the Way You Thought it Would
Gina Smith is a writer and author. She has been married for 34 years to Brian, a college professor, and athletic trainer. For 25+ years she and her husband served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents, where Brian was a professor and dean of students. They reside right outside of Washington DC and are the parents of two grown children, one daughter-in-law, and one son-in-law. She recently authored her first traditionally published book Everyday Prayers for Joy, available everywhere books are sold. You can find Gina at the following: Website:ginalsmith.com, Instagram, , and at Million Praying Moms, where she is a writer.