"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Friend to Friend
Have you ever had a shattered dream? If so, you're not alone.
If ever there was a group of people who lost their dream, it was Jesus' disciples and the women who ministered to and with them. They had such high expectations that Jesus would be the next political leader of Israel (Luke 24:20). They had witnessed his power in feeding 5,000 men plus women and children with two loaves and five fishes; they felt the waves beneath their tiny boat subside at his command; they had watched him breathe life into a lifeless child, open the eyes of a man blind from birth, create new skin from rotting flesh on the limbs of lepers, and command a lame man to take up his pallet and walk. They had seen him walk on water, outwit the Pharisees, and win the lost.
In their narrow scope of hopes for a political leader to save the Jews, they missed the bigger picture of God's plan for a Savior to free mankind from the bondage of sin. While Peter realized Jesus' identity ("You are the Christ."), he did not understand His destiny. Peter was shocked when Jesus explained that He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and on the third day rise from the dead. He even took Jesus aside and said, "Never, Lord. This shall never happen to you!" (Mark 8:33). This was not part of Peter's dream. Suffering did not fit into his plan.
"Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Call me stupid, but don't call me Satan. Yet, that is how Jesus sees it when we try to block God's plans. He sees us as an instrument of darkness, an offense, a hindrance and a snare. It is amazing that one minute Peter could be a building block and the next a stumbling block but that's the trap we all fall into when we have our minds set on the world instead of on the things of God.
Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever lose his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:24)
Even though Jesus forewarned the disciples of his death and resurrection, they fled when the soldiers came to arrest him, and they hid when he was hung on a cross to die. When Jesus was sealed in the tomb, their hopes and dreams were sealed in the darkness with him.
Every day, I receive emails from women who have had their dreams shattered. A husband has an affair, becomes addicted to pornography, abuses the children, or deserts the family. A child gets caught with drugs, gets pregnant or dies in a car accident. Parents divorce, friends betray, careers come to an abrupt halt. The list is endless. So what do we do when our dreams are seemingly destroyed? The answer to that question will shape the rest of our lives.
Does that mean we give up our dreams? I can promise you this, whatever dreams you have for your life, God's dreams are greater. The power of the Holy Spirit the disciples received after Jesus' resurrection, and the impact they made on the world thereafter, was beyond their wildest dreams. That's what God does with a heart wholly yielded to Him. That's what He does when we give our shattered dreams to Him. I have learned to stop saying "Why me?" but instead start saying "What now?"
Dear Lord, there are things about my life that I don't understand, but I do know this. You are good and You are kind. I thank You that nothing happens in my life that is a surprise to You. You have a greater plan than my small vision can imagine. I pray that You will reveal that larger plan for my life to me. Help me to pay attention to Your promptings and obey Your bidding.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Think back over your life and list two or three dreams that did not turn out like you thought they would.
Is there a prayer request or dream in your life that, in retrospect, you are glad God did respond to affirmatively?
Write down any areas of your life where you have said, "Why me?" and are now willing to say,"What now?"
Place yourself in the disciples' sandals for just a moment. How do you think you would have felt the night Jesus died on the cross?
How do you think you would have felt the day you saw Him walk into the room ... resurrected from the dead?
How would that experience have affected the way you viewed trials in your life from that time forward?
Now, how should that affect the way you see trials today?