Langston Hughes wrote about a “Dream deferred.”
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
What happens when the plans you have are not the way life turns out? What do you do when the future you prepare for never comes? We all have ideas and hopes and dreams for family, children, loved ones, work, friendships; then reality happens. Maybe it’s bad news: health issues, money issues, work issues. Perhaps someone else makes choices that impact you. Sometimes what you planned doesn’t come to pass.
Maybe the child you’ve waited so long for is born deaf, or severely autistic, or with cerebral palsy. I have known couples and parents whose hopes and dreams for their children were instantly altered; they needed to make significant adjustments for the rest of their lives. In an instant, everyone’s plans and hopes for schooling, marriage, grandchildren, retirement, and travel, were derailed. What do you do when life all goes “wrong”?
Whatever the situation, God doesn’t owe us anything, not even any type of happiness or success. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the center of the story, He knows and does what’s best for His purposes and glory, and ultimately ours. This is what He told Job in 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” I need to be reminded of this, when things don’t go my way, when my dreams are deferred. It is a sobering jolt to my system; my life is not about my way, but His.
Despite his pain, suffering, and distress, Job trusted in God. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:25-26).” He is a loving Father, and we can bring our hurts, broken dreams, and ruined plans to Him. We who are His children through Christ will see Him on that day and be with Him forever, and that is the best hope and plan we can have, regardless of what happens here with our plans. “The real you has to meet the real God,” author Paul Miller writes, and we can be real with Him when the curve-balls of life come and things don’t work out as we wanted, when our dreams are deferred.
Our ultimate future is with Christ. We will be transformed, with no more pain or tears or brokenness, in that future day. We have a hope and assurance that God will make good on His promises and restore all things to Himself. He knows what He is doing, and He is the God of glory and comfort in the midst of ruined plans and deferred dreams.