As a Welsh exile in Cheltenham, I have to confess to disappointment at events on two successive Twickenham Saturdays after the high of winning against England. The dream is over for another four years. But even if we could not care less about rugby, we know what it is to be disappointed. Other people have let us down, disappointed us. We have disappointed others and we have disappointed ourselves, kicking ourselves perhaps for something we said poorly or inappropriately.
But those of us who are Christians often like to appear relentlessly upbeat; somehow being disappointed can seem unspiritual. Do we have a Theology of disappointment?
Maybe we begin with a frank recognition that some hopes are dashed. We simply do not get all we would like or ask for. Growing in maturity means we accept this. But I have learned that those who have been powerful in business or successful in any enterprise can find it very hard indeed when they don’t get their way in other spheres of life.
In our more reflective moments we could consider where we have invested our hopes – in our jobs or family or achievements in one way or another. If we ask too much of any of these, we may find that we have simply set ourselves up to be disappointed.
What about the things that God never says? Never in the Old Testament does God say to people, ‘I am disappointed in you’. Jesus never told his disciples that they were a ‘disappointment’ to him. He is frustrated with them clearly and at times very cross with them, but he never calls them a ‘disappointment’. Maybe we can take heart in our disappointments, that it seems Jesus remarkably continues to believe in us.
The Revd Canon Dr Tudor Griffiths, Area Dean of Cheltenham