“We live in a dark world. Rain falls. Storms come. Lightening strikes. Your life can shatter. The roof can fall in. You can be damaged. As long as you live, you will have something to lose - little pieces of yourself. The people you love, the life choices you cherish - there is always something at risk, something dear. Some cause for fear. We can choose to surrender to that fear and let it rule our lives, or we can surrender to God all of those things we love and fear to lose, and then love fearlessly - undaunted.”
You know how you wait for something specific to happen for literally years? With each passing day you hope beyond hope that the dream inside of you just might actually come to fruition. It’s so good and so big you almost don’t let yourself really believe it might come to be in real life. And yet, you anticipate it… it gets so close you can taste it, until one day it finally happens. That amazing thing you felt for sure was too good to really unfold – it actually does. Your heart explodes with the goodness of it all. You go all in. You invest your heart, your love, your time, your very essence into what has materialized somehow. This dream, this passion – this thing you know that you know that you know God instilled deep down in your heart… it blossoms. It becomes more beautiful than you even imagined it. Life feels fuller. This dream is not a dream any longer – it’s real. It’s pulsing. Life is bursting forth. It’s happening in front of your very eyes. It’s a part of your story and you are a part of it. Its beauty is woven into the very fabric of who you are. You are transformed because of it.
You can see where it is headed. You are alive with even more possibility. You live your dream, confident of where you are going. And then one day, without even a whisper of warning, it disappears. It’s ripped out of your life so quickly you don’t even know what hit you. And you’re left reeling, numb. How could this have happened??
What in the world are we to do with disappointment?? Actually, I think disappointment is too light a word. What do we do with a heartbreak so deep it threatens to swallow us whole? What do we do when it seems like our dream dies?
Jessica Davis writes in the book For Love’s Sake: “What did I feel like? I felt like everything I had ever worked for was ripped into shreds, distorted, and broken beyond repair. Suddenly the journey that I was on seemed more like a mean joke from God than a precious gift. I remember feeling so angry toward God one day. Why would He give me something so beautiful, a dream to change the world, and then sit back as it was snatched away?”
Um, yeah. What she said. That’s exactly what I've been feeling this week.
Through the tears and the hurt and heartache, here’s what I’ve come to… all of us human beings are frail creatures. We hurt each other even when we don’t mean to. We fail. We may even cause someone else’s dreams to come crashing down. But NONE of this changes who God is and what His heart towards us is. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we need to know – that even on the most excruciating days, through completely unexpected disappointments, we are loved by the One who matters most?
Isaiah 54:10 says “For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, My covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart. The God who has compassion on you says so.”
I’m sure that many of you have things falling to absolute pieces in your lives right now. People may have hurt you. You may have had a dream implode before your very eyes. Your health may be failing. Your bank account may be empty. Your marriage may not be what you long for it to be. Your plans for having children may not be realized. The list can go on and on. But God is there saying EVEN IF EVERYTHING FALLS TO PIECES, MY LOVE WON’T WALK AWAY FROM YOU. And more than any dream, any passion, any desire I have – that love and peace God talks about in Isaiah 54 is what I want. It’s worth sacrificing any desire or dream for. Jessica goes on to write “When we give our lives to God, we lay down our rights. We choose to exchange our dreams, hopes and promises for His. The promises He gives us will NEVER disintegrate, but will remain.”
This morning I was reminded of Isaiah 63:9 which says “In all their affliction, He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy, He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them all of the days of old.” The beauty of this struck me so profoundly this morning. In my affliction, in whatever affliction you may be going through right now, the God of the universe is afflicted too. He hurts because you hurt. He’s God - He doesn't have to hurt with us and for us, but He does because He loves us just that much. Yet, notice that He doesn't leave us there in our affliction. In His LOVE and MERCY, He redeems us. He redeems our situations, our disappointments, our dead dreams. And if today, you literally can’t think about taking another step because you are so worn out and discouraged, guess what? You don’t have to. He says HE WILL LIFT YOU UP AND CARRY YOU. And what was it that saved them? His presence. Simply knowing God is WITH us even in the middle of daunting circumstances or unbearable heartbreak – that experience of Him being with us is what carries us moment by moment.
Ben and I were talking last night and he said “Amy, can you think of one painful, difficult circumstance when something fell apart and God didn't replace it with something better?” And you know what? I couldn't. In my 38 years, there hasn't been one. Because that’s the kind of God I know - the kind of God who makes things not just better, but brand spanking new. And people, “brand new” or “better” usually doesn't come the way we might expect it to, or dare I say, in the timing we want it. That’s the beautifully frustrating thing about God – He operates outside our realm of understanding.
Sometimes the replacing He does of the broken things in our lives is simply with Himself. And friends, He is enough.
We might be watching for an exact replacement of whatever we lost, but God in His infinite love for us, gives us what we need. And often, it comes in the form of a deeper experience with Him. If, according to Isaiah 63:9, it’s His presence that saves us and rescues us from our affliction, then that’s what I want more of. I will lay down my dreams and my rights so that I can know Him deeper – because He is so, so worth it.
So, all this to say, friends… if you are suffering through loss or desires or dreams that are unfulfilled – know that God is with you in your suffering. Also know, in all the wrestling and struggle that comes from that, God is taking you somewhere. It’s not over. It wasn't all pointless. You didn't put your heart out there for nothing. He hasn't abandoned you or your dreams.
I will shed my tears and mourn my loss, but I will do it knowing that what is to come will be more beautiful than what was (or wasn't).
“This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden: the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited…I, the Lord, have rebuilt what was destroyed and replanted what was desolate.” – Ezekiel 36:35-36