A broken relationship. A long-unanswered prayer. An unaccomplished dream.
Disappointments that we would sympathise with and try to offer encouragement for with friends but inwardly hope will never happen to us.
Because such pain was unthinkable for me, I made my own efforts to avoid getting crushed. I would keep people at arm’s length, never daring to get too close or deep in so that I would not risk getting burnt. I would stick to the middle road, telling myself to aim high but be content with whatever was above average. I would read admiringly of others’ successful pursuits of their dreams and derive vicarious pleasure without ever seriously regarding mine as anything more than childhood fantasy.
And if I didn’t get something that I really wanted, I would hide my wounds behind the convenient and seemingly stoic fallback of “well I guess it wasn’t meant to be anyway”.
I was afraid to commit because I was afraid to lose.
So many of us, whether we’re believers of Christ or not, have bought into the lie of settling for just good enough. But we were not meant to just live average lives and then disappear from this earth. We were called to live abundant lives and make a lasting impact while we can.
Thankfully, I learnt to live. And to love. And to dream. Actually, I didn’t really have to learn. All of us are naturally made that way.
And perhaps the most important thing I learnt was that failing isn’t an option, it’s a certainty – but that’s ok. Because failure doesn’t mean the end. Temporary setbacks don’t last forever.
How many times have we rued a lost relationship, a missed opportunity, a shattered dream? There was a woman who had lost her husband, and now her only son had died. All of her love, unanswered prayers, hopes and dreams were wrapped up in the corpse of her son being carried out of the city. It was such a tragedy that almost the whole city went out with the funeral procession to grieve with her.
And as they went out, a Man who was coming towards the city met them. He comforted the mother, telling her not to cry. And He stepped up to the coffin, stopped the procession, and spoke to the dead body within: “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the lad who had been dead sat up alive and started talking.*
In the midst of our disappointments and regrets, hope can enter. It may be a consequence of our own error or it may be something totally unexpected, it doesn’t matter which. We cannot psych ourselves out of despair or fear, but we can allow the One who will bring peace and hope beyond understanding to come in.
Because if Jesus can raise the dead, He can bring even the deadest situations to life. I don’t have to be afraid of failure or disappointment, because I know it’s not over until His victory is made manifest in my life.
Do I still have problems in my relationships? Of course. Just ask my husband. Do I still have prayers that have yet to be answered? Yeah. Are my dreams fully realised? Not yet, but I’m getting there.
And where I never had the courage or perspective to admit fault before, I now find the humility and strength to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. Not all the time, but I still count it a big step forward.
Where I used to bury my disappointment with a ‘Que Sera, Sera’, I now find an abiding peace and hope that I can look to and which holds on to me. I may not know the hour when my answer will come, but I am assured of the result that it will.
And where I used to just let my dreams languish at the back of my mind until they fade and become forgotten, I now find the drive and confidence to take the first steps towards where I’ve always aspired to be. My steps may falter and I may meet with detours and walls, but I know I’ll get there one day as long as I keep moving forward.
Because I have met the One who guides me to love from within. The One whom I know always keeps His promises. The One who will carry me through all things and do all things in me, for me, and through me, not by my strength, but by His. His name is Jesus.
Do I deserve any of it? No. But He does it for me anyway. That’s grace. And you can have it too.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*The account of the raising of the widow’s son is found in Luke 7:11-17.