Shattered Dreams: Trust and Hope

(This is Part 3 of a 4 part sermon series. Before reading farther, take a moment and read Ruth Chapter 3 from the Old Testament)

It was on the eve of a critical battle that the general walked among his troops.  There was a group of local militia who seemed most like a mob and untrained.  He turned to his closest advisors and said, “I don’t know anything about these soldiers.”  The next group he came to were recruits fresh from basic training.  To his advisors he said, “I think I can trust these soldiers.”  Then he came to a group who stood at attention with stern lips and weapons at the ready.  They had served for sometime alongside the general in many battles.  The general turned to his advisors again. “These men I know I can trust!”

Trust in God grows from time spent in the battles of life.  Just as soldiers grow to trust their commander because of experiencing faithfulness, we grow to trust God, first in the small struggles.  When we “grow up in faith,” through practices of prayer, giving, worshipping and serving, not only do we grow in our trust of God, but God does the real work of forming us into the image of Jesus Christ.  This is what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:   17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 and we all, who with unveiled faces contemplatea the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

God is not in the business of simply blessing our dreams and desires for fairy tale “happy-ever-afters.” If our understanding of religion is to learn the secrets of principles and practices to get “good stuff” from God to make us content and successful, then we are missing the point of what God’s word has been saying to us.  So what can we count on God for? In Shattered Dreams, Dr. Crabb states simply: “We can count on God to patiently remove all the obstacles to our enjoyment of Him (pg 144).”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a principle-based teaching that presents us the secret to a happy life. It is the truth that God keeps First Things First and God’s First Thing is a relationship with us and He will not allow lesser things to get in the way.  We can deny it all we want and we even will argue the point but we only NEED God.  The Psalmist describes it so clearly when he writes, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)”   So keep in mind, a week is about the longest anyone can go without water but more typically it is 3-4 days. (  So the question for us rests on how much more do we desire God over the things and stuff of this world?

Naomi had lost husband and sons.  She and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, were vulnerable.  Because of the cultural traditions, they couldn’t access the property and wealth of her husband and sons. Someone must redeem it.  Naomi knew all this and with the kindness shown by Boaz, Naomi began to dream a new dream.  No arranged marriage and no inheritance would make it possible.  It was trust and hope - in the character of Boaz but more so than that, it is in God as she proclaims in 2:20, “He (the Lord) has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”

Our desire though is to feel better.  We confuse our feelings with facts and we live in a society where this is encouraged.  But feelings are fleeting.  DBT therapy describes feelings as clouds.  They take different shapes and forms and then dissipate as the days go on.  Naomi cautions Ruth, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens.  For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today (v18).”  God is in no rush.

In his book, “Where Is God When It Hurts,” Philip Yancey makes a simple point about hope saying, “True hope is honest.”  It believes that even when “...the worst has happened...a person...can stand up and continue” (pg 211).  Yancey goes on to point out this isn’t a pollyanna hope.  It is a real hope, one that honestly views God’s Word and sees there is place for both miraculous healing and the pain of long-suffering.  Naomi had reason to hope and reason to dream new dreams even in the midst of shattered dreams.

What is our alternative?  I am forced, because of the continuing horrific acts of terrorism and the tragedy in Paris, to address, at least in part, the problem of evil, the issue of theodicy.  I do so by sharing the words of Dr. Jerry Walls who wrote, following 9/11:

“Those who give up their faith in a good God because innocent men and women were killed have, ironically, consigned those people to oblivion. If there is no God, there is no good reason to believe those men and women will ever life again.  There is no hope that can reach them. But if one continues to believe in God, one retains the hope that even such a terrible situation as this can be resolved in the end.  God can and will restore the lives of those people.  Indeed, no innocent suffered will be lost or forgotten in God’s final reckoning. (Good News Magazine, Nov/Dec 2001)."

What is our dream though?  Is there hope in this present life for those who suffer?  Of course!  But there is something more which the Christian is to hope for, it is what Paul writes the Roman church in 8:16-18 (ESV)  (16) The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  (17)  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  (18)  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  

Naomi had hope in God for a redeeming work. She does discover a new dream.  But through her dream, we must not miss the greater dream God has for us - to see an end of suffering and to become, through sanctification, like Jesus Christ!  Naomi’s lesson for us is to hope and trust in the promises of God; to be faithful even in suffering as we become the children of God.

Works Cited and Referenced:

Where Is God When It Hurts? Philip Yancey

"Making Sense of Evil." Jerry Walls. Good News Magazine, Nov/Dec 2001)

"Here's How Many Days A Person Can Survive Without Water." Dina Spector.  Business  May 9, 2014.


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