I’ve started a new book that my sister sent to me, one I had begun reading last spring, but it just got crowded out by so many other things I had to, or needed to, or wanted to read. Mostly I think, what I read in just the introduction, impacted me so much it was as if I had read the whole book and the crux of what he wrote (below) has sustained me through these difficult months. In a nutshell, it was this: “He uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God.”
In the midst of everything, this was like a balm to my soul….
“There’s never a moment in all our lives, from the day we trusted Christ till the day we see Him, when God is not longing to bless us. At every moment, in every circumstance, God is doing us good. He never stops. It gives Him too much pleasure. God is not waiting to bless us after our troubles end. He is blessing us right now, in and through those troubles. At this exact moment, He is giving us what He thinks is good.” (Crabb, Larry (2012-06-13). Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy (p. 1).)
The horribleness we have experienced this past year, for me, has been a bitter cherry on top of a long string of very difficult years. Because the enormity of it dwarfed the reality, which has culminated over time, that the hopes and dreams you have for your kids or yourselves after they are grown, is never going to be what you thought or what it looks like when you look at other couples, other families, it has forced me to find a way to make peace with what is. So, that is why reading this suddenly made such perfect sense, a blessing in itself:
“God wants to bless us. That’s the first idea. Because He can’t resist giving us the highest good, He’s determined to give us an encounter with Himself. It’s the greatest blessing He can think of. It’s the highest dream the self-aware human soul envisions. But we’re not self-aware. We’re out of touch with the central longing of our hearts. An encounter with Him is what we want, but we don’t know it . That’s the second idea. Let me develop it a little further. We dream lower dreams and think there are none higher. We dream of good marriages, talented kids, enough health and money to enjoy life, rewarding work , and an opportunity to make a difference in the world. All good things. Of course we want them. But we think they’re the best things.” (Crabb, Larry (2012-06-13). Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy (p. 3).)
“The greatest blessing is no longer the blessing of a good life. It never was. It is now the blessing of an encounter with God. It always has been. But now, in the new way, the greatest dream is available. But we don’t view things that way. So God goes to work to help us see more clearly. One way He works is to allow our lower dreams to shatter. He lets us hurt and doesn’t make it better. We suffer and He stands by and does nothing to help, at least nothing that we’re aware we want Him to do. In fact, what He’s doing while we suffer is leading us into the depths of our being, into the center of our soul where we feel our strongest passions. It’s there that we discover our desire for God. We begin to feel a desire to know Him that not only survives all our pain, but actually thrives in it until that desire becomes more intense than our desire for all the good things we still want. Through the pain of shattered lower dreams, we wake up to the realization that we want an encounter with God more than we want the blessings of life. And that begins a revolution in our lives.
The suffering caused by shattered dreams must not be thought of as something to relieve if we can or endure if we must. It’s an opportunity to be embraced, a chance to discover our desire for the highest blessing God wants to give us, an encounter with Himself.” (Crabb, Larry (2012-06-13). Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy (pp. 3-4).)
So, that just really affected me because in the place where I was when I first read this, crushed with the overwhelming-ness of everything that was happening, it brought me real joy and hope. And going forward now, even though things will likely never be the way we thought they would when Jack and I started out, it makes me look at my dreams, everything I was looking forward to, differently. I can let them go now, or embrace them as they are, not as I thought they would be or look like.
I have no idea what the rest of the book will be like, but the introduction alone found me right where I was at and left me determined to hold onto the truth of it and remind myself on the hard days where I want my focus to be. If you are interested, you could read the introduction on Amazon.