“Since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life” (Romans 5:10 NLT).
In Eden we see God’s ideal relationship with us: Adam and Eve enjoyed an intimate friendship with God. There were no rituals, ceremonies, or religion—just a simple, loving relationship between God and the people he created. Unhindered by guilt or fear, Adam and Eve delighted in God, and he delighted in them.
We were made to live in God’s continual presence, but after the Fall, that ideal relationship was lost. Only a few people in Old Testament times had the privilege of friendship with God. Moses and Abraham were called “friends of God,” David was called “a man after my own heart,” and Job, Enoch, and Noah had intimate friendships with God (see Genesis 5:22, 6:8; Exodus 33:11, 17; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Job 29:4; Isaiah 41:8; Acts 13:22; James 2:23).
But fear of God, not friendship, was more common in the Old Testament. Then Jesus changed the situation. When he paid for our sins on the cross, the veil in the temple that symbolized our separation from God was split from top to bottom, indicating that direct access to God was once again available.
Unlike the Old Testament priests who had to spend hours preparing to meet God, we can now approach God anytime. The Bible says, “Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God” (Romans 5:11 NLT).
Friendship with God is possible only because of the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. “All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends” (2 Corinthians 5:18 GNT).
An old hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” but actually, God invites us to enjoy friendship and fellowship with all three persons of the Trinity: the Father (1 John 1:3), the Son (1 Corinthians 1:9), and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Disappointment and Anger
Ten years into marriage, we had one of the biggest fights of our marriage. Though we were not conflict rookies, the intensity and stickiness of our anger unnerved us. It was as if this single event somehow epitomized every deficit in our marriage. Month after month, we hunkered down in our foxholes and lobbed verbal grenades at each other.
After almost a year of this unproductive behavior, we reached out to wise friends for help. Without being aware of it, we had been minimizing and avoiding our disappointment and anger. As a result, we never learned what these feelings were trying to teach us and endlessly looped around the same half-dozen fights. Sound familiar?
In the context of marriage, if we find ourselves disappointed and angry, we have four options: divest and/or quit, pretend that everything is fine (which is dishonest), try to change our spouses (which never works), or ask God to use the anger and disappointment to transform us so we can love our spouses independent of their behavior. If we want our marriages to thrive, we really only have one choice.
How do we arrive at that final option? First, we need to make a paradigm shift. We often assume that disappointment and anger indicate there’s something wrong with us, our spouses, or our marriages. Such conclusions may cause us to feel shame and, as Mike Mason points out, “to pull back from the full intensity of the relationship, to get along on only the basic requirements.”
In order to give more of ourselves rather than pull back, we need to reframe anger and disappointment as holy invitations rather than dire pronouncements. Then, as we press into these disquieting feelings, we can accomplish three important objectives: discern what drives them, decipher the message they intend to communicate, and develop reality-based expectations.