All of us have dreams for how we hope our lives turn out. Some young boys dream of being a major league baseball player and hitting a home run to win game seven of the World Series or sinking the winning putt on the 18th hole to win the Masters. OK, I admit it, those were my dreams. Other children may dream about being the President of the United States. Eventually most of our childhood dreams give way to reality, but we then focus on other dreams as adults. But how are we to respond when those dreams don’t come true?
I got to thinking about this as I was listening to Alistair Begg’s excellent teaching series The Hand of God on the life of Joseph and the providence of God. Specifically, it was his message “Lessons from the Dungeon, Part Two” when Begg was teaching about dealing with disappointment. If you remember the story, Joseph had interpreted the dream of the cup bearer of the king of Egypt, telling him that he would be getting out of the prison in three days and would be restored to his office. In Genesis 40:14-15, Joseph says to the cup bearer “Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.” But verse Genesis 40:23 tells us “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him”. As Joseph sat in the dungeon for more than two years, his dreams of getting out of prison were being dashed each and every day that went by.
Perhaps you have dreams that look like they may not be fulfilled. A friend of mine once told me that he wanted to write a book and run a bed and breakfast in an exotic location, neither of which have happened to date. A few examples of dreams you may have, but have not been fulfilled yet are:
- Career goals. You may have had dreams of securing a leadership position so that you could help people develop and drive strong results for your organization.
- It could be that you have had a deep longing to have children, but you haven’t been blessed with them as of this time.
- You may have had dreams to travel to some of the great sites of the world, but for health or financial reasons it doesn’t look like this is going to happen.
- Perhaps you didn’t get a chance to attend college, or if you did, you always dreamed of getting your Master’s Degree, but that hasn’t happened.
- Perhaps you are in a band, and your band is really good. You’ve had dreams of securing a recording contract, and “making it big”, but that hasn’t happened.
I could list many, many more examples of dreams you have had that for whatever reason haven’t come true, at least not yet. This may be causing you significant pain in your life. What are we to do with that? First, I would suggest praying about your particular situation. Ask the Father to show you favor in your heart’s desire. He may say yes, no, or not right now, as He did in Joseph’s case. Remind yourself of Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Pray the prayer that never fails, “Thy Will Be Done” and ask the Lord to prepare your heart for whatever He holds for your future. We have no idea what plans He has for our future, but we know we can trust the One that holds our future. Shepherd boy David never dreamed he would be called to be King of Israel. Or we could be called to serve in a much humbler way. He will prepare us and go with us.
Next, I would suggest looking to the Bible for comfort while you wait on Him for the answer to your prayers. Lastly pray for Him to prepare you for your future endeavors and for contentment in whatever He calls you to do. Here are seven of my favorite verses on contentment:
Philippians 4:11-12: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I Timothy 6: 6-8: But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Hebrews 13:5: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Luke 12:15: And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Unfulfilled dreams can cause us extreme heartache. We can admit that and take our hurt to our heavenly Father in prayer, trust Him and take comfort in these scriptures. How have you dealt with disappointment in your life?
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21