We live in the world of magic, imagination, and wonder. As children, we are taught to dream. As Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue it.” But what happens when we dream something and it doesn’t happen? What do we do when we experience the death of a dream?
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in dreaming large and then seeking to make that dream a reality. Yet sometimes, no matter how hard we try, some things aren’t meant to be. We see this all the time on reality television shows like American Idol. A person just knows she’s going to become the next superstar because it’s been her dream all her life. There’s just one problem. She can’t sing! She sounds like a cat screeching in a room filled with rocking chairs. Although this is an extreme example, you understand my point. Sometimes, our dreams aren’t meant to be for the simple reason that they are our dreams and not God’s.
This doesn’t mean God is a cosmic cop waiting to destroy your dreams. He’s not seeking revenge over the fact you didn’t consult with Him about the plan for your life, and this doesn’t mean having a dream is bad. Yet as is often the case, people have the tendency to make plans for their lives without talking with God and seeing if their plans match His plans.
I’m one of those dreamers and planners who didn’t leave room in her life for an alternate plan. My dream was to be a medical missionary. As noble as that is, it wasn’t God’s plan for my life. I knew I had the dream to help and encourage sick people, and I assumed the best way to do this was to be a nurse on the mission field. Being the planner that I am, I quickly got to work when I graduated from high school to make my dream a reality. I enrolled in nursing school and was two semesters away from graduating with top honors. And then it happened. My body decided to crash, and along with that came the death of my dream. I was too sick to finish nursing school. Not only that, I learned no mission board would send me to the mission field because I was too sick. Every hope, dream, and plan I had for my life changed.
I picked up the pieces as best I could, but I knew in my heart I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do. Something was missing. So I began to pray like I never had before, but this time, I prayed for something new. I didn’t ask God to give me a new dream or make my old dream become a reality. Instead, I prayed for redemption.
I had heard about redemption all of my life. In church I was taught redemption is why Jesus died on the cross – to forgive and redeem us from our sins. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder why I couldn’t have redemption in all areas of my life. If Christ can redeem people from their worst sins, then why couldn’t He redeem all the pain and suffering I had endured?
Merriam-Webster defines redemption as “the act of compensating for a defect.” Although I don’t think people living with a chronic illness are defective, I do believe those of us with a chronic illness understand better than most what it’s like to have a life filled with imperfections. We are far from perfect, and we’re often reminded by doctors that our bodies are inadequate. Yet God doesn’t see all of that when He looks at us. He sees His beauty in us. He can take the biggest defeat and turn it in to something more amazing than we can ever imagine. All the pain we’ve endured, He can redeem. God can take the worst day of our lives, and turn it into the best thing that has ever happened to us. Sometimes, His redemption isn’t immediate. More times than not, it’s a gradual process. My redemption began with the birth of Broken but Priceless Ministries. There have been many small redemptions along the way, as well as some big, but God’s biggest redemption for my suffering is about to happen.
Sometimes dreams die, and I’m not going to lie; it’s hard! But know this: If God allows a dream of yours to die, it’s because He has something better in mind. God can and will use all the difficult things you’ve endured in life for your good. He CAN redeem the pain. Cry out to God. Ask Him to redeem every tear you’ve cried, and then wait for Him to act. Don’t give up on God. He hasn’t given up on you!
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” ~ Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)
© September 26, 2013