At times in the Christian life it seems God doesn’t come through on His promises. We try hard to obey, we try hard to trust Him, but we still end up with losses that feel too heavy to bear.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a happy marriage and a wonderful family. I can’t believe my “happily ever after” ended the way it did.
We always thought our son would be a great man for God. It’s devastating to see the choices he’s making now.
I’ve saved myself for marriage sexually. But now I’m wondering if marriage will ever even come for me.
I’ve done all I know how to deal with my same-sex attractions, but I’m nowhere near where I wish I was.
Despite what we may want to believe, the loss of dreams—even dreams we think God has for us—is a normal part of being a follower of Jesus.
And yet, our happiness now is not always His first priority.
Peter thought he understood the trajectory his life in Christ was supposed to take. He had found the Messiah, the Savior of the Jewish people who would free them from the captivity of their Roman oppressors. Not only had Peter found the Messiah, he had become one of the Messiah’s closest friends. How could anything but good be in store?
So every time Jesus spoke of His own suffering and death, Peter pushed back. When Jesus talked of His followers forsaking Him, Peter refused to believe it. When soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out his sword and fought.
This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.
As he warmed his hands by the fire, what sense could Peter make of Jesus shivering in chains across from him in the courtyard? What’s wrong? Why won’t He break free? Why won’t He fight? Why won’t He do a miracle? Why won’t He save Himself?
And maybe from a deeper place in Peter, Why is He abandoning me?
Peter thought Jesus’s priority was taking back Jerusalem for Jewish rule. Jesus’s priority was taking back Peter.
Peter was ruled by powers greater than Rome. Jerusalem under Roman rule wasn’t fully Jerusalem anymore, true enough. But even more so, Peter under sin and death’s rule wasn’t fully Peter.
Jesus wouldn’t choose victory that day over fully, truly rescuing Peter.
The same is true for you and me.
And so, as painful as our yet unfulfilled dreams are right now, I think it’s not cruelty, or indifference, or absence that causes God to withhold victory now. It’s mercy. It’s bigger, better dreams for us.
This understanding doesn’t heal our wounds or take away all our pain today. But perhaps it can stir hope in the midst of our present difficulties.
In the meantime, God is not aloof from our present suffering. But for all of our sakes, He will also not be ruled by it.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)