Connecting with Culture
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Spare a thought for those who, whether they’re sixth-formers or prospective grads, will have no summer term, no celebration party, no opportunity to hug their friends goodbye. Many had to leave their student houses and head home suddenly, now figuring out how to complete their degrees from a distance. It wasn’t meant to be like this. And there’s nothing they can do about it, except sit in the disappointment.
The temptation is to run from or deny this reality: be it watching all of Tiger King in a weekend or bulldozing our emotions with ‘God’s in charge’ mantras. But the gospel shows us and the students we know a better way.
Rather than a God who shows us how to escape disappointment, Christians believe in a God who shows up in our disappointment.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews captures this fact, in pointing out that Jesus is not ‘unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses’ (4:15). Jesus dealt with disappointment too – we see it in his response to his townsfolk’s lack of faith, his closest friends falling asleep when he needed them most, and even in his anguished cry to his father from the cross: ‘Why have you forsaken me?’
If disappointment was an experience for Jesus, we can be sure it will be an experience for those who follow him. Recognising there is no quick fix, on-demand, life-hack solution might be a way to help the students we love to come to terms with their disappointment.
To do so might even be the first step towards a more profound truth: Christians do not believe that we face disappointment alone. He is Immanuel – God with us. And as we discover that reality, our disappointment might not only be validated, it might be transformed.
Knowing Jesus and trusting him is a hope that ‘does not disappoint us’ (Romans 5:5). Because in God’s story, disappointment – whether a missed goodbye or a saviour on a cross – is only momentary. The truth is that he’s putting this not-as-it-should-be world back together, as his kingdom comes, day by day. This is the hope of the gospel. And that kind of hope is good news for all of us, including students.
Programme Leader – Emerging Generations