It is at times like this when words of comfort seem empty and futile. If you cannot change the outcome, what's the point? I was pondering on this just last week, trying to conjure up the right words, when I was reminded of a little phrase:
We had hoped.....then Jesus drew near.
In fact this short sentence was the theme for our wedding sermon, some 15 years ago. A strangely depressing sermon title for a day that is supposed to be the happiest day of your life! But this sentence is one that we have revisited time and time again througout our married life, not because we are constantly disappointed in one another, but because this feeling is one that every human being will encounter on a regular basis: our seemingly "perfect" life partner might turn out not to be quite who he/she seemed, the longed for baby hasn't arrived when we had imagined, redundancy is forced upon us at a time when we need the money most or that fateful phone call with the news that our test results confirm cancer....
The reality is, disappointment is hard to avoid.
Luke 24 vs 13-35, tells the story of two of Jesus' followers, journeying back to Emmaus after witnessing the death of Jesus and His subsequent body disappearing. They were downcast, perplexed by what had happened and ultimately, hugely disappointed. They "had hoped" that Jesus was The One, the messiah, their rescue plan. Interestingly, the person who they were explaining this story (and their feelings) to, turns out to be Jesus himself. After conversing with them throughout the 7 mile journey, He agrees to spend the rest of the evening together (they still have no idea who this man is!) Later on that evening, He breaks bread and finally, they realise that He is Jesus....the person who has spent all day by their side, discussing scriptures with them, explaining all the events that have taken place in the last few days and how they were part of God's perfect plan.
And can we not look back on times of disappointment in our lives and say the same? Is it not in these difficult times when we are downhearted, desperately struggling to understand why God would allow this to happen, that He meets us right where we are, just like He met the people on the road to Emmaus? The truth is, He longs for us to tell Him our sadness, to lean on Him and pour out our disappointment. And in turn He will draw near with scriptures and words of encouragement. He will comfort us and be our constant - that's a promise!
And here it is, the inconspicuous picture given to us on our wedding day - a small but beautiful reminder that Jesus will always draw near, no matter what.