Brian Rosner’s chp in The Consolations of Theology about disappointment and Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a model of showing how the theology of a given theologian consoles in the midst of emotional trauma.
How do you deal with disappointment? How do you advise folks to deal with disappointment?
When I began the chp I wondered if the word “disappointment” was appropriate for what Bonhoeffer endured, but within a few pages — including a masterful sketch of Bonhoeffer’s life — I was convinced Rosner’s word got to the heart of the issues.
Except he begins with this: “Golf was once described as a long walk punctuated by disappointments.” Here, here: anyone who finds his or her way to the golf course, regardless of the score and bad shots and missed putts, must admit that a bad day on a golf course is better than a good day at … you fill in the sentence.
Bonhoeffer’s imprisonment, cutting short the promise of a great theologian and a marriage and friendships, was not met with typical strategies: regret, Stoic cutting back of desire, seeking compensation in something else, or longing for heaven … instead, he offers eight reflections on how to deal with disappointments:
1. Focus on the invaluable: relationships.
2. Don’t give up on legitimate desires.
3. Embrace godly optimism.
4. Look disappointment in the face.
5. Compare yourself with those less fortunate.
6. Find comfort in the God who gathers up the past into the future.
7. Remain cheerful.
8. Walk through it with God.
Each is richly supported.