“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.” Dan 2:20-22
Have you ever given up on a dream? Something you always thought you would achieve, or that you wished could happen? It’s a difficult moment when you finally accept that not everything has worked out the way you’d hoped. Life sometimes seems out of our reach. The older we get, the less time we have to reach the goals we always hoped for. It can lead to depression or the sense that our lives don’t matter. Some people find their way out of the pain by alcohol abuse. Others enter a “midlife crisis,” where they try to fight off their despair by adopting a more extreme lifestyle. We run into these behaviors because our culture doesn’t give us another option. It paints us a picture of the good life that is based on accomplishment. When we don’t reach the things we’d hoped for, we spiral down.
The solution is to base our dreams on the things that are on God’s heart. If we do, we don’t have to worry about the outcome; we know he always has it under control. His purposes can’t be stopped. In Daniel 2, Daniel and his friends are facing the possibility of execution, along with the other wise men of Babylon. If they’d had their dreams locked on political advancement or the Babylonian vision of the good life, they would have come to a screeching halt. But they had their eyes on their God and his awesome power. He had a purpose for their lives, and that purpose couldn’t be blocked. God saved them by one of the most amazing displays of power in the Bible. He gave Daniel an understanding of a dream that the king had dreamt but had forgotten, along with the interpretation of that dream. It was beyond mind-reading; it was a revelation of something that only God could have known. And with the interpretation, which revealed the future of Babylon under the king’s rule, God showed that he had total control over the course of nations. Daniel and his friends couldn’t be disappointed; they had placed their trust in something that couldn’t fail.
We wrap our dreams around things that we think we can control. Relationships, finances, our careers, our health. We make plans based on the things we want, with ourselves as the central priority. We use anger and manipulation to make sure things work out the way we want. Then things start to come apart, and we spiral down. Divorce, the death of a loved one, or a diagnosis of a medical problem lead us to despair. But only because we’ve gotten it wrong from the beginning. If we’d found our purpose and value in Jesus, no matter what we lose, we know that we are in his powerful hands. Daniel reminds us that everything lies under the control of our God. His will cannot be stopped.
The way we get to the same place is by a simple prayer, to place him at the center. Maybe you’ve never done that—pray and give everything you have, everything you are, to him. If you do, then nothing can be taken from you. You already gave it up. You then take the plans and dreams of your life and say, “As you will, Lord,” and hold onto them loosely. You spend your time and prayer focused on being faithful and doing the things you were made to do, and you will find yourself in the middle of His dream for your life, and not your own. Your prayer, like Daniel’s, will be of praise, as you experience his amazing power over and over, in the midst of disappointment and heartache. You will go to him every time you have a need, knowing that He loves you and wants to show you that he has it under control. “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.” That will be your prayer, too.
God’s dream for you can’t be blocked, except by you. The Christian life is about constantly letting go of things. That includes things we value as well as the pain and suffering that life deals us. In His hands, our lives are safe, and we experience His love. Nothing can take that away from us.