While I was happy for the parents and didn’t begrudge their choosing this name, there was still just something about this new mom naming her new daughter a name that embodied my deepest held dreams that caused a sting of longing and sorrow in my heart.
That’s my dream.
But it’s not happening for me.
But it’s happening for her.
With being single into my 30s, this is just one of many dreams that has yet to be fulfilled, that I don’t know if they’ll ever come true, that seem less and less possible.
I’m sure we all have dreams like this. Dreams we’ve fervently prayed for. Dreams that as time passes have had to alter in shape even as the core desires stay the same. Dreams we wonder Why her, but not me? about. Dreams we fear will end with death rather than fulfillment.
The dreams we’re still waiting for.
In such waiting, how do we have hope when possibility becomes less possible? How do we hold our longings without being consumed with them? How do we sit with the sorrow and grief of unfulfilled dreams, while also walking in joy and thanksgiving for the life God has given us?
When God Says, "Wait"
In our wonderings if our dreams will come true, God often doesn’t give a direct answer. We usually don’t hear a crystal clear Yes, No, or Wait.
In fact, it can often feel as if God has gone silent in regards to our dreams. We pray, but there’s no answer. We ask, but the dream isn’t given. We seek, but fulfillment isn’t found. We knock, but the way isn’t opened.
And so we wait. And wait. And wait.
In Scripture, when we are called to wait, it’s usually in phrases like these:
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
We can find hope, joy, and comfort for our waiting in how the Bible speaks of waiting, specifically in how we are called to wait on the Lord.
In the above verses, and many others that speak of waiting on the Lord, the word “wait” comes from the Hebrew word, qavah: “This word stresses the straining of the mind in a certain direction with an expectant attitude; a forward look with assurance.”*
When God says Wait, He does not mean a passive waiting, a living in default mode until our dreams come true, a walking in disappointment of the not yets and almosts and what could have beens.
Rather, when God says Wait, He is calling us to fix our hope and focus our trust in Him as our ultimate fulfillment. To look forward, even if it’s through tears of sorrow and disappointment, with the assurance that He will be who He says He will be and will do what He says He will do, and because of this, the life He has given us, the life He leads us in, the life He is growing in us, is truly abundant life.
When we walk through our waiting in this posture of waiting on the Lord, we can be expectant and assured: that God will respond to our prayers with His Presence, that He will answer our questions and doubts with His peace, that He will respond to our seeking by making His will for us known, that He will answer our knocking by making a way for us to walk in the light of His love and shine that light in the world around us.
It may not always be how we expect, or even at first want. But it will always be for our good and for God’s glory.
A Posture of Hope
Here are some ways we can cultivate this posture of hope when we’re still waiting for our dreams:
Remember God’s faithfulness
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
Recalling the ways God has shown Himself faithful to us in the past - how He has answered prayer and kept His promises and poured out His goodness - reminds us that He will continue to do so right now. He will meet us in our longings and needs to comfort and care for us. So we are not consumed with despair, but are anchored in hope.
Recognize God’s goodness
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6
In the middle of the waiting it’s easy to look around and see only what’s missing. But in those spaces that seem empty because of the lack of longed-for dreams, could God still be pouring out His goodness, soothing the cracks with purpose, relationships, blessings, empowerment, comfort?
As we recognize God’s goodness in our right-now lives, there will probably still be sorrow and grief for 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 weaving His goodness in us, around us, and through us.
Rest in God’s love
I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. Psalm 31:7
This is the ultimate prize of our seeking, the ultimate answer to our prayers, the ultimate fulfillment to our every longing: ever closeness with the God who created us in love, by love, and for love.
When the waiting is long, lean on His love; when the sorrow overwhelms, be held by His love; when discouragement is heavy, be strengthened by His love; when the pain is sharp, be soothed by His love; when the doubts are loud, listen to His love; when the fear is crippling, be protected by His love… so that you may delight in His love, and grow in His love, and when others share their burdens, share His love.
I can’t say why some seem to get their dreams right away while others wait for them or even never see them fulfilled. But we can be assured of this: God is faithful, good, and loving. We can wait on Him, for He is worth the wait.
*The New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong