When Your Dreams Haven’t Come True

This article was written by Le Ann Trees and published by Beautiful Christian Life


Is there a dream you’ve been holding onto for a long time and it hasn’t come true yet? Maybe you’re worried and anxious that it isn’t ever going to happen. Maybe you’re wondering if God really loves you after all. Here are five good things to remember in such times:

1. God still loves you.

We know from reading the Bible that God allowed his dear saints to go through various grievous trials. Because you are suffering right now in some way does not mean that God has forsaken you. He still loves you. Below are some of many examples from Scripture of this great truth:

  • God still loved Adam and Eve when he had an angel drive them out of the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24).

  • God still loved Abraham and Sarah while they waited until very old age to have the promised child, Isaac. (Gen. 16:1; 17:15-21)

  • God still loved Joseph when he was both thrown into a pit by his envious brothers and put in prison (Gen. 37:18-24; 39:19-21).

  • God still loved Hannah when she wept bitterly over being barren (1 Sam. 1:10)

  • God still loved David when he was persecuted by Saul and had to flee for his life (1 Sam. 21:10).

  • God still loved Jonah when he ran away from God’s command to warn Nineveh (Jonah 1:3).

  • God still loved Peter when he denied his Lord (Luke 22:54-62).

  • God still loved Stephen when he was stoned for proclaiming the gospel (Acts 7:54-60).

  • God still loved Paul while he was shipwrecked, beaten, and held in chains in prison for preaching the gospel (Acts 27:27-44; 2 Cor. 11:25; Phil. 1:14).

  • God still loved John when he was exiled on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9).

Because we have the benefit of hindsight through the reading of God’s true word, we can see how God was with these and many more saints amid great adversities. Being God’s beloved does not mean life will go smoothly for us. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that they would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33).

2. God is at work in your life.

You may be certain that your dream will bring you happiness, but this is often not the case. Whether you want to climb a certain mountain, marry, achieve certain career goals, have children, look a certain way, or be well off financially, you probably know of people who have some or maybe many of these things and are still not happy. They may even be quite miserable.

Furthermore, if we have lived into adulthood and are honest with ourselves, we can all think of things we personally wanted that would have been destructive in some way in the long run. It is good to work diligently and honorably to make our dreams come true, but God may have a different and better plan for us:

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Prov. 16:9)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Prov. 19:21)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. (Eph. 1:11)

Even though we may not understand why doors are shut in our life, we can trust that nothing ever happens to us that has not been allowed by God. He has a purpose in all he ordains, and we need to trust him even when things might not make sense to us right now.

3. God hasn’t made a mistake.

Have you ever felt like saying, “Why did you let that happen, God?” or “Why wouldn’t God want to fulfill this good and godly dream of mine?” We can take great comfort in recognizing that God knows all our hopes and dreams. He knows how disappointed we are. He also knows the past, present, and future. Because he is all-knowing and good and loving, we can trust that he has a reason for not fulfilling our dream:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isa. 55:8)

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. (Ps. 139:1-4)

Furthermore, we have limited knowledge. We can only see what God allows us to see. As David Gibson points out in his book Living Life Backward, “It is part of living well to accept two things: first, we are enclosed within time’s bounds, and, second, God is not” (p. 52). It’s easy to think, “If only I could go back in time and change this certain thing, then my life would have worked out the way I wanted.” This is foolish reasoning as we cannot possibly know what would have been if the past had been different.

The movie The Butterfly Effect tried to make this very point. The main character has the chance to go back in time to achieve the outcome he desires; yet, his intervention causes far more harm than good. Because God is loving, good, holy, beautiful, righteous, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, he will work all things together for good for those who love him.

4. You aren’t the main author of your life story.

It is essential to recognize, as Gibson writes, that “we are each writing the story of our lives, but we are not the main author” (p. 52). While we have control over our decisions on certain matters, many aspects of life are simply beyond our control—and that is a good thing. In his sermon series “The Crook in the Lot,” the eighteenth-century Scottish theologian and pastor Thomas Boston reminds us that at some point we will see even our great sufferings in the light of God’s good providence and care for us:

Standing on the shore and looking back to what they have passed through, they will be made to say, “He has done all things well.” [Mark 7:37] Those things which are bitter to Christians in the passing through are very sweet when we reflect on them.

You are special to God, so special that he gave his only begotten Son for you. Yet, while you are part of God’s story, you are not the whole story. Rejoice that God has included you in his overarching redemptive plan as his precious child, with full rights as a co-heir in Christ.

5. God makes everything beautiful in its time.

If you’re reading this, your life has not come to an end on this earth. It may be that your dream will come true—just not yet. Some saints prayed for decades before God granted their petitions, and you worship the same God they did. The God of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Hannah, David, Jonah, Peter, Stephen, Paul, and John is also your God.

Commit your way to your Savior, always trusting in him come what may, because no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9). And God’s future for his children is the best dream ever—and one that is sure to come true.

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