Relationships

Jesus Understands Broken Relationships

Matthew 26:14-16,20,21,34,35,47-50,56,69-75

Hard times will test any relationship. Physical suffering, financial pressures, misunderstandings, and many other issues can stretch even the closest bonds.

It’s in the hard times when we really need someone to stand by us; yet it’s in those same moments when loyalties can fade and commitments cool. That’s exactly what Jesus faced as His earthly life drew to a close. His claim to be the Son of God had been bold. Religious leaders were angry and the heat of opposition grew intense. Commitments of some close to Him wavered.

Judas, who had been part of Jesus’ inner circle, betrayed Him for a handful of silver. Peter, who swore he would never leave Jesus’ side, hurled angry oaths at those who linked him with Jesus as Jesus stood trial. Ultimately, as pressure intensified, the worst-case scenario unfolded. Matthew 26:56 records that...

All the disciples deserted [Jesus] and fled.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself standing alone at a time when you most needed someone to be near you. That someone might have been a spouse, another family member, or a close friend. You may not even know what happened when the relationship shattered, or why the problem even erupted. Know that Jesus understands. He can relate to the confusion, loneliness, and pain of being abandoned. He knows about broken relationships. Because He knows, He can bring comfort and peace to fill the void in your heart. Just call out to Him in prayer today.

Describe a time when you felt abandoned in a relationship.

In what way can you find comfort in knowing that Jesus endured, too?

God Will Never Turn You Away

John 3:16; 6:37; Romans 5:8

We can all recall being on a playground when teams were being formed. As the appointed captain called out names of selected teammates, it was a given that the most athletic or popular would be chosen first. Those outside the inner circle would wait nervously to see which captain would finally choose them. Nothing was worse than being the last one picked.

Thankfully, equal opportunity is granted to anyone who wants to be part of God’s family. Acceptance isn’t based on ability or popularity, but on our willingness to believe in Him and align with His Word and will. Jesus declared in John 6:37 that...

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

God will never turn you away. John 3:16 says that God sent His Son Jesus to earth out of His great heart of love so that anyone who believed in His Son would not perish but have the hope of everlasting life. God makes this promise even to those who’ve lived their whole lives in sin, far from Him. He takes us just as we are, without conditions.

You might feel that the world has shut you out. The sides have been chosen and you’ve been left standing alone. Remember that even though people might turn you away, God never will. His heart and arms are open to you today. All you have to do is accept His great love for you. When you do, you will find the joy of being a part of God’s great, caring family.

In what ways have you sometimes felt you were on the outside looking in?

How has being part of the family of God made a difference in your life?

God Can Heal Your Hurt

Psalm 119:76,77; 2 Corinthians 1:3-6

Many parents become nothing short of experts at first aid when their children encounter the bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes of growing up. A bandage here, some antibiotic ointment there, a hug and kiss and life is all better again. As adults we often find similar responses to external pains, as we gain sympathy from others when we’re hurting physically. It’s another matter, however, when the pain is on the inside, pain such as is caused by a broken relationship.

Internal pain cannot be bandaged like a cut or scrape; and internal pain usually isn’t even noticed by others unless we cry out in emotional distress. The pain, however, is real and may be even more debilitating than physical suffering.

The author of Psalm 119 knew about internal suffering. Listen to his heartfelt words in verses 76
and 77...

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live.

Contained in this expression is the comfort the Psalmist experienced through God’s love and compassion. Perhaps it kept him from the temptation to give up on life itself. Knowing that God’s love is constant and never changing can be a tremendous source of encouragement to us regardless of how deeply we may hurt.

Paul, too, knew of God’s help in times of pain, declaring God to be the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4). Just as there is no relationship too broken for God to mend where hearts are willing, there is no hurt too deep for Him
to heal when mending doesn’t happen.

God understands the hurt you’re feeling. He knows the pain of broken relationships. In your pain He will be the God of all comfort who can bring healing and peace.

Why is it sometimes so much harder to deal with pain that’s not physical?

Why is it important to understand that God’s love for us is constant and unchanging

Connect with a Close Friend

Proverbs 18:24

Friends come in all shapes and sizes, literally and figuratively. In the figurative sense, friends can vary a great deal in terms of how close they are to us, the strength and depth of their character, their shared values, and so on. Having the right friends is critically important to our emotional and spiritual well being.

Solomon made an interesting observation about friendship in Proverbs 18:24.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Some so-called friends can be superficial, deceitful, and manipulative. Those are the kinds of friends Solomon identifies in the first part of the verse. Connecting with them will only create more hardship and pain in our lives. However, what a wonderful thing it is to connect with someone who stands by us through thick and thin, through the hard times and the good times, through tragedy and triumph. That kind of friendship isn’t conditional, and it doesn’t weaken when things get rough; in fact, it strengthens and becomes even more supportive. A friend like that shares our values, overlooks our faults and failures, and affirms us when we succeed.

In times when relationships on other levels unravel, how important it is that we have, or be, that kind of friend. In those circumstances, complete honesty and transparency are vital so that healing can come. Sometimes tough love is required, being willing to ask the hard questions and dealing head-on with painful issues. Yet God can use such friendship to bring the healing that’s needed.

How would you describe a true friend?

What is unconditional friendship like?

How will the way you respond to Christ change when you realize He is your friend as well as your Lord and Savior?

Forgiveness Brings Freedom

Matthew 18:21,22; Luke 6:37; Ephesians 4:32

A lot of books have been written on issues surrounding human relationships. It’s likely that scores of articles have been created and sermons preached on this vital theme as well. Undoubtedly, many of those resources have helped people whose relationships were shattered by hurt and misunderstanding. Yet after all the pages have been read or sermons listened to, the crux of the matter often lies in saying the powerful but sometimes very difficult words, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.”

Paul echoed this sentiment in Ephesians 4:32, as we urged the Ephesian believers to...

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Paul’s words imply that forgiveness often was necessary among people he knew. And this reality hasn’t changed over the centuries, as issues can arise today that hurt and divide. If not dealt with appropriately, these issues may lead to permanent damage. Even when circumstances in these strained or broken relationships are very complex, the antidote to such hurts is a willingness to say we’re sorry and to forgive.

Jesus highlighted another important healing dynamic in relationships. In Luke 6:36, He said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Mercy recognizes that while hurt has been inflicted, forgiveness is needed for another’s well being and perhaps our own. Mercy is particularly needed in times when offenses are repeated. Jesus also instructed us to forgive over and over again those who sin against us (Matthew 18:21,22). With His help we can achieve the level of forgiveness
needed to bring healing and restoration.

Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry”?

Describe how you felt when someone forgave you or you forgave someone else. What positive impact did this forgiveness have on your life? How can this experience help you offer forgiveness more freely in the future?

The Power of Love

Song of Songs 8:6,7; Romans 12:9,10

An understanding of true love has nearly been lost in modern culture. Love has become defined more by sensuality and gratification than by commitment and loyalty. This misunderstanding is a root cause of many broken relationships.

In his final description of true love, Solomon describes it in the Song of Songs as being as strong as death, like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame (8:6). In verse 7 he wrote...

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it way. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

True love is powerful, binding two people together with cords that cannot be broken. It can withstand any hardship that comes against it. However, some people try to buy love with money or possessions. But love based on such things will never stand against the “many waters” and “rivers” of life’s challenges.

Paul’s words in Romans 12:9,10, focus on the ingredients of a God-given love: sincerity, hatred of evil, strong commitment to the good, and devotion. With that foundation in place, love can stand up under any test.

Through faith and trust in God, any relationship can turn in a new direction as each partner acknowledges the value in the other and commits to establishing a relationship founded on true love. If this is needed in your relationship, seek the help of a counselor or pastor who can help guide you in this process from a biblical perspective. Then let God help you establish a relationship that many waters cannot quench.

How would you describe true love?

How are true love and valuing another person connected? How will your relationships be strengthened when you place the kind of value on people that God desires?

Draw Near to God

Matthew 22:37-40; James 4:8

A well-known church has a motto that reads, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The pastor regularly leads the congregation in reciting that motto then asks, “What is the main thing?” at which the congregation responds, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… [and] Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39).

The principle is this: When our relationship with God is as it should be and our relationships with people are as they should be, then everything else falls into place. The order is important. Without a right relationship with God it’s unlikely our earthly relationships will be as they should. However, when we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, loving others is a natural outflow.

This applies directly to close relationships we form with spouses or friends. Broken relationships between people usually can be traced to a broken relationship with God. When our hearts are right with God, everything else can change for the better.

How can we set things right between us and God? James 4:8 provides a profoundly simple solution:

Come near to God and he will come near to you.

We can come near to God when our hearts are made right through confessing our sin and accepting Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Once this spiritual foundation is formed, God will bring the healing and restoration that is needed in our lives. This is the ultimate relationship. Does that need to happen in your life today?

In what ways have you tried to keep “the main thing the main thing”?

How can you draw closer to God?

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV.
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984
By International Bible Society.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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