Hope Beyond Disappointment

Nobody wanted it to happen, and a lot of people worked hard to stop it happening, but it seems to have happened anyway. The number of Coronavirus infections is rising again, and the ‘second wave’ appears to be upon us.

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The most basic human emotion of all in response to these kinds of events is disappointment. ‘Disappointment’ is much too weak a word for what is actually a primary emotional state. It’s been called ‘frustrative non-reward’ by some scientists, but perhaps the most vivid way of describing it is the more demotic word ‘gutted’. Disappointment feels like that, doesn’t it, like the sudden appearance of an empty space inside yourself.

Reactions to disappointment are (unsurprisingly) often like those in response to grief and loss. We try to wriggle out of it by pretending that it isn’t real, or by trying to rekindle a hope that has now evaporated. We blame ourselves or others, as if finding someone to punish will make things better. And we feel the kind of sadness that makes you wonder if you will ever be happy again.

We will observe all of these reactions in response to the disappointing news that there will now be more people getting sick, more people dying, and for the rest of us more precautions, more restrictions, more weeks of uncertainty as the fight against the pandemic moves into a new phase. Some will refuse to believe it’s really happening. Others will want to punish someone. For myself, I expect there will be a little bit of all of these things!

It’s worth reminding ourselves, then, that our Christian faith offers us a hope that cannot be disappointed. God’s promises are entirely reliable and God will fulfil them. It can be hard to see, and even harder to believe, when so much else is letting us down. But these times also provide an opportunity to reflect again on what we hope for. As Christians, our hope is ‘full of immortality’, based on our belief and trust in God’s promise of eternal life.

May God bless you all,