We will face times of trial and trouble in our lives. Just as there are seasons in weather, so we too encounter seasons in our journey of faith. One of the more difficult seasons of faith comes when our dreams, hopes, and plans “shatter” and fall apart. It’s easy to become angry and bitterly disappointed with God during these hard moments. We face tough questions such as:
Is God really good? Is He for me and if so why isn’t He making things better?
Can I trust a God who seems to be hidden, distant, and uninvolved?
Why are these things happening? I trusted God and have tried to honor Him with my life?
I hope that you will join me as we consider how that God is actually work for us and in our lives during these difficult, dark moments!
I strongly recommend that you purchase and read Larry Crabb’s book: Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy. I will be discussing quotes from this work. You will benefit from reading this book for yourself.
The Choice we face-Central Truth
“When the dream of experiencing now what is reserved for us in heaven is decisively shattered and when the shattering is embraced and not fought, either we’ll sink into despair or we will hope in God, and wait as faith becomes a firmer foundation and godly love of life. . .The shattering of our deepest dream of fulfillment in the present becomes (1). the unexpected pathway to the the happiness Jesus knew during His life on earth the happiness of (2). trusting God, (3). serving others, and (4). confidently waiting for complete happiness in being reunited with God in paradise forever.” introduction xi-numbers added for clarity by me
Our greatest happiness comes in the three things mentioned above! Trusting God, serving others, and patiently waiting for perfect union with God enables us to live for Christ/His glory as opposed to seeking self-fulfillment through worldly, lesser, selfish things.
Larry discusses how that we as natural humans tend to desire “lesser things” such as a “good” life. He reminds us “He’s (God) determined to give us an encounter with Himself. It’s the greatest blessing He can think of. . . An encounter with Him is what we want, but we don’t know it.” pg 3
God, because of His Infinite Mercy and Goodness will bring difficulties into our lives so that we will begin to desire Him more than what we consider to be the good things.
The “good things” are hindering us from God! Let’s think about this for a moment! Carefully consider what you are seeking in your life. Do you seek relationships, material prosperity, health, career, etc. more than you desire God? If we’re being honest before God and with ourselves, we recognize that our greatest efforts and striving in life are for things other than God. We want the blessing(s) more than we want God Himself!
I want you to consider that it’s a merciful God who allows our “lesser” dreams and hopes to fail! As long as we pursue our dreams and ideas of the “good” life then we’re not really pursuing God! Larry reminds us:
Through the pain of shattered lower dreams, we wake up to the realization that we want an encounter with God more than we want the blessings of life. . . Our shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.”
The suffering caused by shattered dreams must not be thought of as something to relieve if we can or endure if we must. It’s an opportunity to be embraced, a chance to discover our desire for the highest blessing God wants to give us, an encounter with Himself. pg 4
Three Truths to Consider
I want to invite you to prayerfully reflect on the following three truths Larry presents (my reflection follows in line below each truth) on pages 4-5.
1. God wants to bless you
God desires to bless us! God loves us perfectly and works to draw us closer to Him. Often our discouragement, difficulties, and feelings of dissatisfaction are signs that God is starting a greater work in us! Remember that the greatest blessing is God’s Presence–not His blessings or good things in our lives!
2. The deepest pleasure we’re capable of experiencing is a direct encounter with God.
The book of Job reveals this truth. Job’s questions and difficulties are satisfied when God appears. All the great men of faith in the Old Testament were profoundly changed by God’s appearance. The apostles and early Christians were remade by Christ’s presence and influence as well. We need God’s presence and an encounter ourselves! Yet we mistakenly pursue lesser things because we wrongly believe such lesser things will fill the “void” we feel in our hearts. God knows us and works to move us forward! He doesn’t leave us stuck in our small, safe self-made worlds.
3. So the Holy Spirit awakens that appetite (to encounter God). He uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream. Shattered dreams are not accidents of fate. They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to waken then to satisfy our highest dream.
While we may dislike the shattering of our dreams and hopes, there is a greater purpose! I want to encourage you to deeply consider your life and dreams. Let God’s Word and Holy Spirit guide you as He works to “satisfy our highest dream”!
I write this post as a person who grieves the loss of “lesser” things. Yet, I also recognize God’s mercy in bringing about the death of my lesser desires/dreams. The real danger isn’t that we face loss or discouragement in our journeys, but that we continue to live satisfied and seeking the wrong things! God may not seem kind or compassionate when He causes or allows career and other types of failures into our lives.
During these times we need to remember the central truth that God is Perfectly Good and Just. All we endure is part of His Plan for our lives. I want to end this post with this truth from Larry from page 7:
“The road will take us through some dark nights, but you need not wait for morning to rejoice. Morning will come, but can welcome your suffering now as an opportunity to meet God, to encounter Him with a passion that will free you to get close to a few people in authentic community and to experience genuine transformation in your personal life, especially in the way you love others.”
For God’s glory and the encouragement of fellow pilgrims, I type these words,