In the Bible, God’s friends are no strangers to disappointment.
In the book of Deuteronomy, there is a very moving tale of disappointment. Moses is described as the greatest of prophets, “whom the Lord knew face to face”: he had no equal. His life’s work had been to do God’s bidding by leading his people out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land. However, he was to die within sight of the promised land, on Mount Nebo, but never to set foot in it. And in a final touch of pathos, we are told he was buried nearby, “but to this day no one knows the place of his burial”.
In the Gospels, we also learn something of Jesus’ disappointment. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled with the passion and death which awaited him. He pleaded with his Father that this cup might pass him by. He sweated, we are told, drops of blood. Part of him at least, it would seem, would have preferred things to have turned out otherwise.
There is much disappointment around these days. The virus has cut across so many plans. Weddings have been postponed and holidays cancelled. With the future of the economy uncertain, the career prospects of many have radically changed. While in some families, the death of a loved one has turned the world upside down.
At times like this, we can remember words from chapter 4 of the Letter to the Hebrews:
“15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been testedas we are, yet without sin.”
Along the road we are travelling, Jesus has been before. He is compassionate, he understands us and because he understands us, he can help us. But how?
St Ignatius Loyola encouraged the men and women of his day to pray in a particular kind of way. He wanted them to speak to the Father, to the Holy Spirit, to Our Lady or to Jesus, “as a friend speaks to a friend”.
Friends have heart to heart conversations. Sometimes they need to unburden themselves and that means they don’t always speak politely. A near contemporary of Ignatius’ and a fellow Spaniard, St Teresa of Avila, once prayed in utter exasperation, “If this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few!”
Are you disappointed, frustrated, angry even at the events of the past three months?
Have they cost you a lot?
Do you feel the Lord has let you down?
If so, then speak to him about it. Not politely: follow Teresa’s example, tell him exactly how you feel.
Then ask him to show you the way to follow. Remember the words of psalm 139, “Darkness is not dark to you, and the night is as clear as the day”. Ask him to share some of his light with you. Tell him you how much you need it!
One of the products of difficult times can be a stronger relationship with the Lord. Perhaps that’s why God’s friends often experienced disappointment: their relationship became more “real”.
This kind of honest, heart to heart, prayer is one of the ways the Lord strengthens your relationship. It may not be that your problems immediately vanish but you’ll be able to face them with a friend - a stronger, firmer friend - which can, as we know, make all the difference.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.