The story of Joseph (coupled with the entire witness of Scripture) gives us a greater perspective on dealing with the disappointment, pain, and anger of broken dreams.
Sometimes our foolishness is God’s wisdom.
Joseph was a typical teenage boy, bragging about how great he thought he’d be. Nobody likes a braggart. Maybe his brothers over-reacted a tad, but I certainly don’t fault them for wanting to put little Joey in his place.
Could Joseph have handled it better? Absolutely! But, following God’s dream the wrong way is better than not following at all. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He expects us to be obedient. He knows we’re going to say and do stupid things. He’s already taken our foolishness into account.
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29, NLT)
You may look foolish for pursuing a dream no one else sees. You may feel like a fool when that dream comes crashing down. But, you never know how God is going to use your foolishness to inspire, encourage, and change others. While others are measuring your success by the outcome, God is measuring your success by the output – demonstrated obedience and faithfulness in the face of opposition.
God’s time is the right time.
We live in a “hustle culture” – a “make-it-happen” mindset. It’s easy to get all ramped up with our dream and run a full-on sprint until we can’t run any more. As we’re gasping for air, we look back to see God in the rear-view mirror. We want to do it today and we’re too impatient to wait for God’s timing.
I bet Joseph didn’t plan on waiting 22 years to see the fulfillment of his dream. He likely felt abandoned by God at points along the way. He was probably tempted, as many of us are, to take things into his own hands at times. Yet, if he had, we would have likely missed out on all that God had for him. He stayed the course, trusted God for the outcome, and was blessed as a result.
God is faithful in the delays and difficulties.
After Joseph was thrown in prison by Potiphar and it seemed as if all hope was lost, the author says that either “The LORD was with Joseph” or “The LORD blessed Joseph” five different times (Genesis 39)! Even in the lonely darkness of that prison cell, God was looking after Joseph and orchestrating His plan.
The pain of broken dreams can make us feel like we are imprisoned in a situation we didn’t choose, don’t deserve, and can’t get out of. It’s easy to look at our situation and feel defeated and hopeless; yet, God sees us in our fragile state and He blesses us in our weakness. Look for the blessings in the brokenness.
Our dead-ends can be paths to God’s deliverance.
After Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in Egypt, they are stunned. Joseph tells them,
“Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” (Genesis 45:5)
Although I’m sure Joseph wouldn’t have chosen it – the rejection, abandonment, slavery, false accusations, imprisonment, etc. – they were all part of God’s greater plan. It seemed at every turn along the way that the dream was dead and gone, but it was just chapters in the story leading to a glorious conclusion that Joseph never could have conceived himself.
It’s hard to watch a dream die, but you never know what God is up to. It may look like the dream is over, but God’s not done writing your story. What seems like a dead-end may be God’s plan for deliverance.
God’s perfect plan cannot be derailed by imperfect people.
The culmination of the Joseph-story is this:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
This is a theme we see repeated over-and-over again in Scripture: God makes beauty out of messes. What Satan intends for evil, God uses for good. What seems like foolishness in the eyes of men is God’s wisdom at work. What seems like is broken and beyond repair, God uses to make us healthy and whole.
Your dream may be derailed by your own mistakes, the maliciousness of others, or circumstances beyond your control. Right now, the Corona Virus is killing thousands of dreams a day. But your dream is just one chapter in a larger story God is writing.
God doesn’t give us dreams so that we can be great, but so that He can demonstrate His greatness. Your dream may be dead, but God’s Dream lives on. He’s not done with it or with you. So, hang on!
God is at work amid the details of our lives accomplishing his good purposes, whether we realize it or not. The trials we go through humble us and teach to trust God and to see his power in desperate situations.
It may seem to like everything is broken, but God is in control and His perfect plan will not be derailed by imperfect people in a fallen world.