What do you do when your dreams aren’t coming true? What do you do when your heart breaks from the ache of wanting something so much and it looks like that one dream may never be yours? Like Hannah who wanted a child. Desperately.
So what did Hannah do? Instead of lashing out at her tormenter Peninnah, Hannah went straight to God with her lament and her request. (1 Samuel 1:1-20)
In short, Hannah poured her heart out to God. All of it. Not just a prettified version of herself. She shelved all fake and told the LORD she wasn’t fine. And she cried real, hard tears from her real, broken heart in front of her real, loving God. And her God, the LORD, listened. And her God, the LORD, granted her request.
But sometimes God doesn’t grant our requests. Not the way we want. And the pain is real.
I wonder what Hannah would have felt, how she would have dealt with God, her LORD, if her request was not met with baby Samuel? Would she have turned away? Would she have turned bitter? Would she have done everything in her power to circumvent God’s will? Would she have thought God didn’t care? Or wasn’t being fair? Or that He loved that other woman, that tormenter, better?
I don’t know about Hannah, but I know about me.
I know that I’ve prayed hard, lamented hard, waited and waited, and still had no baby. Not the way I dreamed. Many of my dreams haven’t come true. And I’ve spent a good amount of time lamenting before God. In the process, I found the best dream come true—a dream I never knew to dream. And that dream came true through lament. Because . . .
The point of lament is pressing into Love.
The point of lament is facing your soul’s utter poverty in the presence of the One who could squash you like a bug but finding He embraces you instead with a love like no other.
The point of lament is finding that in the pressures and pain of life, the pressing into your greatest Love is what your heart wants most. And often, we can’t truly know that Love until we’re broken wide open by grief such that we place ourselves in a position to pour out our poverty fully, even with wailing and pleading. Then, in our emptiness, we discover God pouring into us fully, abundantly. This is the divine goodness of dependence.
It’s been twenty years since God brought three orphans into my life to fulfill my dream of mothering. My womb has never been filled with a child. But my heart has been filled with three. God’s plan was not my dream. Not my way, at least. But God’s plan has blessed me most by pulling me close through lament and seeing all the ways He has shown Himself real and loving and sovereign.
Looking back now, I can say God has prospered me most by saying no to my dream, my way, and drawing me close to Himself—to His purposes and plans to prosper me, His way.
Being real with God and laying before Him our acknowledged poverty, our absolute need, our inability to live fully by living independently of Him—this is the path to True Life.
It’s risky. It’s costly. But it’s worth everything we have to find ourselves enveloped in the complete grace of God that jumps off the pages of Scripture and becomes tangible most in the breaking heart—even in the breaking mind—always in the seeking soul.
The perennial gardens here on the farm are blooming their full resurrection thanks with greens and purples, yellows and apricots, pinks and reds. All the textures and colors, the heights and widths. All the beauty of diversity. The undulating lines of rocks forming borders.
I stand back and see all that’s grown from the work on my knees. All the years of digging and planting, weeding and watering. Birds and wind dropped seed where I didn’t, creating a crazy beautiful mix of planned and unplanned which I’ve come to enjoy.
Like my garden, my life has been a crazy mix of planned and unplanned—all those unexpected, crazy-good dreams I never knew to dream. And then they all came true. Just as God purposed and planned. They’ll keep coming true too—all those unexpected, beyond-my-wildest-dreams realities God still has waiting for me. And you.
All is good that’s God’s.