There is no question that God plants dreams inside the heart of every person. A dream is a God-given destiny. It could be something God is calling you to do or to be, something that He has given you the innate skill, talent and opportunity to carry out. It could be a vision you have for your marriage, for your family, for your workplace, for your neighbors or for your community.
But along the way, something happened. Hell’s nightmares are always nipping at the heels of God’s dreams. You have no doubt felt the nightmarish discouragement — the closed doors, the rejections, the financial turmoil, the sickness, the lack of growth.
Unless you can endure hell’s nightmare, you will never experience heaven’s dream for your life.
I found that the moment most people give up is also the moment of greatest opportunity. Everything you want is on the other side of not giving up. Believe it or not, the nightmare is the pathway to your destiny because it purifies your motives and tests your character. Trouble is your pathway to triumph. Your pain is your pathway to giving God higher praise. Your mess is your pathway to the miraculous things of God in your life.
The closer you get to fulfilling your purpose, the tougher it gets. It’s like a woman who, longing to be a mother, becomes pregnant. She’s carrying around this dream of motherhood and enjoying the ride. But when the time comes to give birth, that dream is only born through an experience of excruciating pain.
Calvary was the pathway to the dream of the Church. God said, I have a dream. I want a Church. Jesus said, I’ll build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And hell’s forces said, We don’t think so. We’ll stop You. We’ll nail You to a cross. But when Jesus stepped out of that tomb, guess what? The nightmare became the pathway to the dream.
If you’re battling the spirit of discouragement today and you’re hearing voices telling you to give up, I want to remind you that whatever dream God has birthed in your life, He has promised He will complete it. Philippians 1:6 tells us so: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.”
Pick Up Your Dropped Dreams
You may know the Old Testament story about Abraham and Sarah having a son named Isaac. But prior to Isaac, Abraham had another son named Ishmael. While this couple was waiting for their promised son, Sarah decided that she couldn’t wait any longer. She encouraged Abraham to sleep with her maid servant, Hagar. Abraham agreed, and Abraham and Hagar produced a son named Ishmael. But in time, Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. Ishmael was not the chosen son.
Sarah regretted her earlier actions and demanded that Abraham kick Hagar and Ishmael out of their house. In Genesis 21, we find Abraham collecting food and water for these two and sending them on their way. As Hagar and her son wandered through the wilderness of Beersheba, their water ran out. So did their food. Without any reserves, and being scorched by the sun, mother and son faced death. With no strength left, Hagar placed her barely conscious boy under a dead shrub and walked away, wailing. She couldn’t bear to watch what she knew was going to happen to him. “Let me not see the death of the boy,” Hagar cried. (verse 16)
In what was probably the worst moment of her life, Hagar dropped her dream. Wandering in a wilderness without food, water or resources, in a moment of utter discouragement, she left her son to die and walked away because she was too heartbroken to witness his suffering. But something amazing happened: “God heard the voice of the lad.” (verse 17)
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If you have a God-given dream, that dream can cry out to God like Ishmael’s voice, even if you’ve given up on it. God heard Hagar’s lost dream, and the grieving woman heard from heaven, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” (verses 17–18) God delights in restoring our dreams to us.
If you are enduring a nightmare, the time is coming when you will experience the dream’s restoration. Discouragement may have overwhelmed you to the point of giving up and quitting on what you once believed God promised you. But He is not through with you yet.
If God planted a dream in your heart, no matter what it looks like right now or where you may have dropped it, it’s time to pick it back up. Dust it off and place it back in God’s hands.
Excerpt from Overcoming When You Feel Overwhelmed by Jentezen Franklin provided by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2022. Used by permission.