Unless you are highly unusual, you are all familiar with disappointment. The earliest instance I could recall of being disappointed happened in 8th grade when I auditioned to be the drum major for our junior high marching band. For two solid weeks I prepared for the try out, marching around my back yard twirling a broom stick which served as my makeshift baton. On the day of the audition I performed to the best of my ability. Following the audition the band director announced that he would share the results of the audition the next day. I hardly slept that night, fraught with anxiety over the outcome of process. The next day I went to band and the director called me into his office. He explained that I had a good audition as did the other contestant, but all things being equal, I was a brass player and he was a woodwind, and he needed “my horn” in the band. I was crushed.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve been disappointed with circumstances that didn’t pan out exactly like you’d hoped. And I’m equally sure you’ve been disappointed with people who you thought you could really rely on. You may have even experienced disappointment with God. According to Psychologists, disappointment is the result of some failed or unmet expectation. That may explain why we feel disappointment, but it doesn’t help the hurt.
Disappointment can be tricky, because if one is not careful they can end up living their life defined by their disappointment. Take, for example, the feel good movie Forest Gump. Forest had a difficult childhood, to say the least, but he persevered and began to experience some success. He was an All American football player, then a highly decorated war hero. He became successful in business to the degree that he became a philanthropist, donating millions of dollars to charitable causes. But none of the success he experienced in life mattered to him because the girl he loved from childhood didn’t love him in return.
John 2:1-11 tells a story of disappointment. The setting is a wedding that Jesus and the 12 disciples attended in a small berg called Cana. Mary was there, so it’s possible the wedding was for a family friend, or perhaps Mary had some catering responsibility. Who knows?
We do know that weddings in the first century were multi-day events, sometimes lasting a week or longer. The financial burden of the wedding was on the father of the groom. Like many modern cultures, it was a time for the family to display their wealth and blessings. And, like our modern cultures, they were quite lavish. The family would assume responsibility for hosting the guests for the entire week, providing food, lodging, entertainment, and of course, wine. During the celebration it became evident that they were running out of wine. This would have been cause for embarrassment and humiliation; a grave disappointment to the wedding party who lived in a “blame and shame” culture. In Jesus day, the groom’s family could have been sued for damages, for amounts up to half the value of the wedding presents.
Needless to say, running out of wine would have been a damper on the celebration. One cannot help but notice the irony. Wine in the Bible is a symbol of joy. The wine ran out, the joy also evaporated.
With that backdrop tomorrow I will enter the story and make some observations about belief in the face of disappointment.