Paul Tripp

President of Paul Tripp Ministries

Relationships: Mercy in the Mess

We all dream of the perfect relationship. You know, the one that is free of disagreement, conflict, communication difficulties, power battles, anger and control. We can envision what it would be like. The problem is, none of us ever get what we were once able to imagine. When we wake up from our dreams, we all are greeted by the reality that all of our relationships live in the same location - the fallen world, and all of our relationships are with the same kind of person - an imperfect human being. (I will remind you again, you're one of those too!)

Now you just have to ask why God would choose to subject us to such difficulty and disappointment. Is there meaning in the mess? Is there mercy in the mess? Maybe right now you are facing things in one of your relationships you never imagined you would face. Maybe right now you are dealing with such deep hurt and disappointment that you simply don't know what to do. Have you wondered what in the world God is doing? Have you been tempted to doubt his goodness and question his love?

Here are some things to remember:

1. God never gets a wrong address. Acts 17 tells us that God determines the exact place where we will live and the exact length of our lives. Your life is not out of control. What you are facing is not the result of God forgetting you. No, God hasn't turned his back on the promises he made to you. I know it's hard to grasp, but what you're facing is the result of God being faithful to his promises to you.

2. God is in the middle of the mess with you. Psalm 46 tells us that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." If you are God's child, you have never been in a location all by yourself. If you are God's child, you have never been in a relationship all by yourself. You have never endured difficulty in isolation. Why? Because God is always with you and he is there so that you would have a place to run ("refuge") and help in your moments of greatest discouragement and weakness ("strength").

3. God is up to something good in the mess. Here's the mistake we make in the way we attempt to make sense out of lives. We think that the mess is a sure sign that God is not working in our lives, because if he were at work, we wouldn't be in such a mess. The Bible tells us something completely different. It tells us that because God loves us so, he is not satisfied with us as we are. He looks down at us and sees many areas where change and growth are needed. He couldn't love us and be willing to leave us in our immaturity and weakness. So, God takes us where we do not want to go in order to produce in us what we could not achieve on our own - character. And how does he do this? He uses the difficult experiences of life to expose and change our hearts. One of his main tools is our relationships. These messy relationships expose our hearts, bring us to the end of ourselves and cause us to reach out for the help that only Jesus can give us.

I know it is hard to face the hurt and disaapointment of a relationship gone bad. But there is hope. You are never alone. The One who is with you is up to something very good and because he is, there really is mercy to be found right smack dab in the middle of the mess! 


About Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit

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