When Dreams Don’t Come True

I received an invitation to speak at a conference the other day, and the organizer said, “Rick, we’re developing a conference on how to lead through crisis, and you were the first person who came to mind as a potential speaker.” I accepted the invitation, but after I hung up, I thought to myself…I don’t want to be the first guy someone invites to speak on how to lead through a crisis. That almost feels like the Buffalo Bills playing in four consecutive Super Bowls only to lose all four. 

To quote the philosopher Forrest Gump, “My mom always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

I’m a dreamer. Maybe you are too. The only problem with dreams is that they don’t always work out the way we envision them. Life happens. Things change. Circumstances occur beyond our control. Dreams don’t often go according to plan. 

If there’s ever a time when we see this truth, it’s now. COVID is on the rise, we’re still in the midst of political disarray, and riots are still hitting some of our major cities. 

Jeremiah the prophet wrote words that may reflect your heart right now: “My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, `My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.’ Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me” (Lamentations 3:17-20).

These are the words of a man who hit rock bottom and felt the heaviness of his world spinning out of control. His laments were full of despair and disappointment until . . . he changed his focus. In the very next verse, Jeremiah wrote, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope” (verse 21). And what did he recall to mind? Where did he place his focus? “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (verses 22-23).

When you face adversity, change your focus. Recall to your mind the faithfulness of God, and you will have hope. The Lord’s steadfast love never ceases; his mercies never end. He bestows on you his fresh mercy every morning. Life’s circumstances may shatter dreams, but God’s love renews them. Old dreams give way to new dreams and restored hope.

Jeremiah went from wallowing in sadness to experiencing genuine hope. When I walk in the wilderness of despair, I need this fresh truth. As Steve Farrar once wrote, “When I start thinking correctly, I’m going to get my hope back” (Manna, 214). 

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:5a). When you ask these questions, be sure to follow through with the right answer—“Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5b).