Disappointed Souls

Disappointment is a common experience. Even Jesus faced his fair share. In Luke 10, he sends his disciples to spread the message of the Kingdom of God but warns them to expect rejection. He reminds them of the towns who have disappointed him saying, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down.”

Jesus is disappointed by the lack of faith in these towns who rejected his message, despite being witnesses to his miracles and teachings. Capernaum is where he often preached; Bethsaida was the home to some of his disciples, such as Peter, Andrew, James, and John; and Chorazin is close to Capernaum and would have known about Jesus. But they have let Jesus down.

We all experience disappointments, whether it be in people or in circumstances. I find it comforting to know that Jesus gets it. He knows we will be let down now and then because it was part of his experience as well. If we are not careful, disappointment can lead to disillusionment which can lead to defeat. Don’t expect others to always live up to your expectations. People will let us down, just as we will let people down. It is a fact of life.

This painting is by Ferdinand Hodler, one of the best-known Swiss painters of the nineteenth century. His early works were portraits, landscapes, and genre paintings in a realistic style. Later, he adopted a personal form of symbolism which he called “parallelism.” Hodler’s painting, The Disappointed Souls, captures the feelings of disappointment, grief, and melancholy prevalent during the fin-de-siècle era (end of a century). The weathered, barefoot men lined up on the bench seem united in their grief, but their lack of interaction suggests a sense of isolation and hopelessness.

Being Human connection: In times of disappointment, it’s crucial not to cut oneself off from community. Instead, we are invited to turn to Jesus, who will never disappoint and who will hopefully restore our faith in humanity. By placing our hope in him, we can navigate the disappointments of life and find strength and comfort in our relationships with others.

Featured art: Ferdinand Hodler, The Disappointed Souls, 1892, Guggenheim Museum, New York City