He [Job] knelt on the ground, then worshiped God and said: “We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!” [Job 1:20b-21 (NLT)]
For the last several years, we’ve frequently driven by a house we called the “House of Lost Dreams.” Apparently forsaken by both bank and borrower, we watched as tarps blew off windows, roof tiles grew black with mold, and ivy and kudzu grew on the walls. Eventually, plants nearly obscured the deteriorating house from view as Mother Nature took back ownership of the land.
I think of the people who abandoned their dreams along with that house many years ago. They’re not alone—many people lost homes when the housing bubble burst. At some point in time, we’ve all faced disappointment and, while not necessarily made of brick and mortar, we’ve had to abandon more than one house of dreams. I think of a friend who lost both baby and womb the same day or the friends who lost the spouses with whom they planned to spend their golden years. I know parents who lost children to drugs, an athlete who lost her ability to walk, a family whose dreams were lost to dementia and a mother whose child’s future was taken by cancer. Lost dreams all—financial woes and a foreclosed house are only two of many ways we lose our dreams.
Job could be the poster boy of lost dreams. He still had his house but that was about all he had after losing livestock, servants, children, health and the hopes and dreams that went along with those things. There was Joseph—the favored son sold into slavery. Having lost one dream, he must have thought his future much improved when he became administrator over all that Potiphar owned. Slavery didn’t seem so bad until Mrs. Potiphar accused him of rape and he ended up languishing in an Egyptian prison. Moses spent forty years leading the Israelites and then, because of his lack of faith, had to forsake his dream of ever entering the Promised Land; his forty years of faithful service went down the drain.
It’s not easy to accept that our dreams will not be fulfilled—that they are not part of the future God has for us. Sometimes, like Moses, we cause the loss of our dreams but, other times, like Job and Joseph, we do all the right things and life still goes terribly awry. While circumstances can seem cruel, we must remember that God is never cruel. We may have to abandon our dreams but God will never abandon us. When we’re disappointed, we can despair or continue to hope and trust in God’s plan for us. Like Job, we may lose everything but we don’t lose our faith in God. Like Joseph, we make the best of a bad situation and find God’s purpose in our circumstances and, like Moses, who continued to lead the Israelites to a land he would only view from a distance, disappointment won’t stop us from doing God’s work.