Hope Beyond the Deadlines: How to have Hope for Your Future Even when Your Dreams aren't Coming True
As much as I love my celebrating my birthday, I can’t ignore the reality that my birthday means I’m getting older.
I’ve never had a problem with getting older, but I have had a problem with getting older without certain dreams coming true.
Namely, my dream of getting married.
When I was younger, 30 was kind of “deadline” in my head for getting married. I was (sort of) okay with being single at 22, 23, 24, as long as I was married by 30. I could be content in singleness as long as my dreams for marriage and having kids was still a possibility. I could trust God’s timing and plan as long as that timing and plan included me marrying a handsome godly man.
It seems naive now that I’m in my 30s and still single, but as an early-20-something, it was hard to imagine turning 30 and still being single. It felt like if I passed that “deadline” for my dreams, it would mean time was up on those dreams, and any hope that they would be fulfilled, and that my life could hold fulfillment, was gone.
Maybe you have a “deadline” when it comes to your singleness and dreams and desires. Maybe that “deadline” has come and gone and you’re left feeling disappointed and discouraged. Maybe you’re struggling to hold onto hope for a good and beautiful future that doesn’t hold your dreams. Maybe you’re afraid to get your hopes up, because a life that’s full even without fulfilled dreams seems too good to be true.
But what if there was a hope that lived beyond the deadlines?
A Resounding Yes
God doesn’t promise us all our dreams will come true.
But there are promises He does give us:
2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us, “All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’”
Throughout the Old Testament, God promised a Messiah: from the prophecies of the prophets to the architecture of the temple to the rituals of the sacrificial system, all were foreshadowing and pointing to Him as the One anointed to bring the hoped for redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.
Jesus is that Messiah: the One who was promised, the One who fulfilled the law and the prophets, the One who would complete the Father’s plan for redeeming His people—making a way for us to be reconciled to God and live in relationship with Him.
So in Christ, all God’s promises find their fulfillment; all God’s promises come true; all God’s promises are made reality.
Because Christ is the fulfillment.
He completes our joy, not our dreams. He makes us secure, not our dreams. He defines our purpose, not our dreams. He satisfies our longings, not our dreams. He meets our needs, not our dreams. He is the fulness of life, not our dreams.
Because Christ is our fulfillment; not our fulfilled dreams.
So in Him, we can always have hope for a good, beautiful, and meaningful life, both today and tomorrow and forever—even when our dreams aren’t coming true; even if our dreams never come true.
Because our hope is this: whether or not our dreams come true, the precious promises of Lord are true, and through them He pursues us in His love, draws us closer to Himself, and grows us in His likeness—day by day, until the day we see Him face-to-face.
But I know, in the disappointment and discouragement of unfulfilled dreams, hope can be hard to hold on to.
So how do we cultivate a hope that endures beyond the deadlines? How do we have hope when we’re afraid to get our hopes up?
And because of [God’s] glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. 2 Peter 1:4
We can find comfort and hope in the promises of God, because God is faithful to keep all His promises to us. We can count on Him to provide, satisfy, and fulfill.
Learning God’s promises isn’t just about knowing them in our heads so we can recite them as a cliche when things are hard. Learning God’s promises is about coming to know His heart for us and hiding His words in our hearts, so we can hold on to this truth with assurance that God will always be who says He will be, and will always do what He says He will do.
What promises from God do you find comfort in? What promises have you seen fulfilled in your own life? How has God show Himself faithful to you?
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. Psalm 103:2
In the midst of the sorrow, frustration, and confusion of having unfulfilled dreams, it’s easy to look at our lives and see only what’s missing. And it’s hard to believe our lives could hold joy, beauty, and purpose.
But a lack of longed-for dreams doesn’t mean our lives are lacking.
Because we have a good Father who gives good gifts. And we can embrace and enjoy the gifts and goodness of our right-now lives.
As we do, there will probably still be sorrow, frustration, and confusion about our unfulfilled dreams. But right alongside them, even in the very midst of them, we can have hope and joy for all the ways God is pouring out His love to us, in us, and through us.
What gifts from God do you experience in your right-now life? How could you spend more time delighting in God and His gifts to you? How could you invite others in to that delight? How could you share those gifts?
We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. Titus 2:13
When Scripture speaks of Jesus’ return, there’s a word that’s often used in describing it: glory.
As followers of Christ, we have the hope that one day, all will be made new and whole and complete. All will be fulfilled at the wedding feast of the Lamb, when we come home to our Father who makes His dwelling with us; when we stand before the throne of the Eternal King who has vanquished sin and death (Rev. 19:6-9; 21:3-7); when we no longer see dimly, but see face-to-face just how beautiful and gracious and holy and good and mighty and wise our Triune God is (1 Cor. 13:12). And when there’s no more doubt in our minds that we are safe in Him, that we belong with Him, that we are loved by Him (Rev. 3:5; 22:3-5).
But this hope that we have in Christ isn’t just for someday.
We have the hope that God is renewing and restoring right now. That He is who He is right now. That we are who we are in Christ right now.
We have been given the Holy Spirit, who is the confirmation of who and Whose we are (Rom. 8:15-16), who is the guarantee that we will inherit wholeness (Rom. 8:17; Eph. 1:14), and who is the Power that empowers us to reflect the Lord’s glory in the world around us (2 Cor. 3:18).
Where do you see God’s glory right now? What is God renewing and restoring in your life? Where can you pray for His renewal and restoration? Where can you partner with Him in His restoring work?
Friend, I don’t know what dreams you hold in your heart or what “deadlines” are in your mind about them.
But I do know that in Christ, we are promised fulfillment; from our Father, we are given gifts of His goodness; and through the Holy Spirit, we partake of and participate in the glory of the Lord.
So could you dare to hope beyond the “deadlines”? Could you dare to believe that even if your dreams die, your true Hope lives, and because He lives there is life—abundant, meaningful, full life—both now and forever?