When Life Isn’t What I Dreamed It Would Be

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7

Last night, this quote from John Piper was sent to me. It struck me so deeply that I actually dreamt about it.

Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped it would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have. John Piper/Desiring God Ministries

Life is a series of losses to be grieved. On the other side, God waits to be embraced and that is the most difficult thing of all. Satan wants me to believe that I’m forced to embrace the One who withheld my dreams. The very idea of intimacy with God, in that case, is distasteful. Who wants to be a friend with the person who has hurt you the most!

I have to look at the broader picture and take myself off center stage. Every chosen man and woman in Christian history was favored, but then afflicted. The ones who triumphed and experienced some unforgettable mountaintops along the way did so by trusting in the character of God. In spite of suffering, they partnered with a God who loved them and called them.

While Piper’s quote is short, each part penetrates and challenges.

I weep deeply over my disappointments. Tears are not the end of my journey but they are a part of it. It takes courage to admit that my hope has been spent. Think of the times you may have commented to someone, ‘You must be broken hearted!’ Rarely does someone admit it. The hurt is minimized because down deep, we suspect we can’t survive coming to such a conclusion.  Instead, we give our pat answers. ‘It’s just a bump in the road.’ ‘I’m a little sad but I’ll get over it.’ For me to know true joy, I have to embrace the unvarnished truth. Otherwise, unspent grief spills out in depression and/or anger. Most spend their lives trying to numb out pain.

I grieve the losses. Nothing is as intimidating. I believe that if I start crying, the tears will have no end. It’s an illusion. While much of grieving is solitary, I remain in a small community to keep my perspective. I surround myself with those who will encourage grief and not condemn. They speak Jesus’ words over me and give me whatever time is needed to emerge from the ashes. This is one reason not to make shallow people your best friends.

I wash my face and trust God. One morning, by God’s grace, I know it’s time to face the dawn. With that knowing comes the decision whether or not to walk forward with God, the very One with whom I’ve wrestled. At that point, theology decides. Do I really believe all scripture is God-breathed? If so, I embrace His sovereignty. I embrace His unwavering love for me. I embrace His flawless character and the truth that He never treats His children in a way that is un-loving. I embrace the promise that no life-event is excluded from a touch of His glory.

I embrace the life I have. Once theology (which is as much a heart thing as it is intellectual) is nailed firmly in place, I have hope despite my disappointments. I know that each one has a point. I know that each broken dream is awaiting redemption. I know that I am temporarily looking through the lens of an unfinished plot line. Whatever series of unmet longings are left, I know that their fulfillment will be met in Christ. I will live with Him on a New Earth and in a New Heaven. Joy does not erase the longings; joy just doesn’t give longings the last word! What I grieve today will be sung about tomorrow.

Jesus, I transfer all my hopes to the new Eden where disappointments will never be felt again. Do not let me fear the truth of my losses. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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