daily Broadcast

Overcoming Shattered Dreams

From the series Unstuck

Where do the dreams of our heart come from? Why is it so devastating when they don't come true or are shattered? Chip explains all of this and why it's so important to know that God desires to meet our deepest longings and fill the vacuum of those shattered dreams.

This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.

Chip Ingram App

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Today’s Offer

Unstuck free mp3 download.


Message Transcript

Of all the things that are hard to deal with in life I think one of the most difficult things in life to deal with are shattered dreams. And we all have them. When we are little children I don’t know that we conjure up and think, “This is dreams,” I think it’s just innate.

And then you move to adulthood and the dreams actually get a little more clearly articulated and you want to find “Mr. Right” or the perfect girl and you have dreams because you’ve watched movies, like I have, and read a few novels that you’re gonna have deep talks, and long walks, and romance.

Good jobs, wonderful kids, probably find a home, actually get to buy it. There’ll be joy, and campouts, and little league and just all these pictures of what it would be like - we’ve been fed the American Dream - and for many, that dream got shattered.

In mid-life we, I think the dreams shift to by now you’re at that point where you thought, you know, the job and the career would be at a certain spot, you would have a certain level of impact or significance and financial security. You know, you poured your life into your kids, you went into all those games, you saved all that money, you went into all that debt and you wanted your kids to really turn out right.

And for some that really was neat and you got bits and pieces of it. And for others, your house is upside down, some of your kids dropped out of school, there are some real shattered dreams that the promotions and where you were at and where you thought you’d be, you know, like your life is half over and the realization that some of those things you thought you were going to do, they’re not going to happen.

And so, you either push that down, and make the best of it and this ties into a lot of why we do lots of mind-numbing things. When you have deep longings that aren’t fulfilled and when dreams are shattered it just feels good to eat, or go out to eat, or go on a vacation, or charge something.

In the later years, you have this picture that you’ve worked hard, you want to relax, you want to travel, want to be closer to family, you’ve really worked hard about maybe where you can stay, maybe relocate near your kids or grandkids, and pretty soon your 401k is a 101k.

Some of your kids aren’t in a position where either you want to be around them now, or they want to be around you. And it’s really hard when you find yourself saving, saving, saving and then instead of these golden years, one of you has cancer.

And you know what? Whether you’re a kid, or an adult, or in mid-life, everybody experiences shattered dreams. And they can revolve around your career, your relationships; they can revolve around the kind of pain and dysfunctions that grow out of them.

That the people that you love the most, you do know, they can hurt you the most. And when you see what happens in shattered dreams what you find is that they’re like a pivot point.

Some people experience deep shattered dreams and it is what catapults them into a level of growth, and impact, and health, and relationship with God and it came because they hit rock bottom, or they they’ve realized the ladder of their focus was against the wrong wall.

And other people, they have shattered dreams and it just is:  status quo, just plowing through, you make up stuff like, “I don’t really care.”  “It doesn’t really matter.” “I didn’t want to do that anyway.” Liar, liar, pants on fire.

And so, we’re going to talk about how do you grow? How do you respond to the shattered dreams in your life? And I want to encourage you.  I’ve got three specific things that I think are critical, and regardless of the age… see, shattered dreams can be the greatest turning point in your life, but I’m going to suggest three things have to happen, and then I’ll develop them.

Number one, we must face our shattered dreams. Number two, we need to understand our shattered dreams. And number three, we can grow from our shattered dreams. And the third one is you have to be willing to.

So, first we must face them. No matter how painful… until you face the pain and the hurt, and the loss, and the disappointment, and the anger, and the frustration, and the resentment, you’ll never grow.

Most of us hide, compartmentalize, compensate, lash out, blame, internalize, and never grow through our shattered dreams. “It was my mom’s fault, it was my dad’s fault, it was the government’s fault, it was so-and-so’s fault, it’s that guy who introduced that, it’s that person who did that.”

And then you just shove it down, shove it down… it’s like you have this empty hole in your leg and you just take all that stuff and you just keep shoving stuff in it, shoving stuff in it, and you just don’t deal with it. That’s what we do.

Because it’s painful to face. It’s painful to say out loud, “My mom didn’t love me. If she did, she wouldn’t have abandoned our family. My dad didn’t care about me. My mate walked out on me. I thought I would be here in my career, I made some really big mistakes that I blamed everything and everyone for, but I’m here and I’m not there, and it hurts and I’m hurt and I’m angry, and I always thought it would be… and right now, there is nothing I can do about that.”

It takes courage. You know why most people don’t change? It takes courage. You never can move from where you are, until you have the courage to face, “This is where I really am. I have a problem. I’m disappointed. I have anger issues. I have an addiction. I’m in denial. Part of that marriage issue was my problem. I can’t control hers or I can’t control his but this part was mine. My kids probably don’t call me, one, because they’re insensitive and this and that but they probably don’t call me because… I need to own this part of it.”

And it’s in that facing of your shattered dreams that’s painful. But now you know where you’re at. Now you’re ready to be a recipient of grace. I mean, do you ever get help until you say, “God, I need Your help.” And part of our shattered dreams, sometimes they’re completely out of our control but you need to get them out there where you say, “This part’s mine. And Lord…” you know?

By the way, some of us forgot one small, little thing. It’s a fallen world and you are human. You know what human beings do? They make mistakes. It’s not wrong to make a mistake. Have you ever made a bad decision? I have. I mean a bad decision like a dumb car that I bought. Right? Wrong hire. What was I thinking? Wrong job.

Now, well, it wasn’t on purpose, I just made a mistake. It’s a fallen world. Are you perfect? I’m not perfect. But when we make a mistake we act like, “Ahhh! Shock! How did that happen?” Like who do you think you are? Superman or Jesus? I mean, you’re going to make mistakes.

But we’re so unwilling to face that, we will do all kind of mental gymnastics to rearrange the world, and how we frame everything.  Instead of saying… Even in relationships, I just found, “Well, you know the reason I was late was because the traffic was this, and there was this, and there was this, and there was this.”

And how about this? “I left ten minutes late because I was more interested in what I was doing than our meeting. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I was selfish.”

When was the last time someone told you that? “It was really busy.” Now, see, it’s true, right? There was extra traffic. But what we do is, we tell sixty-seven percent of the truth to get ourselves off the hook, and then we live with this [inability to tell the truth]. And then we learn to do that in all kind of things.

So, all I’m saying is step one, face your shattered dreams. Painful, but God… what did we learn? Psalm 34:17… “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I mean, every time you find Jesus in the New Testament, people that: “I got it together, I don’t need any help, I can handle this,” Pharisee. What’s he get? He gets a cold response. And then: “Have mercy on me, I’m a sinner.” “I’ve had five husbands, you must be a prophet.” “I’m wiping your feet with my tears,” and Jesus is so compassionate to people who just come and say, “I’m broken and I’m part of it, and other people were part of it, but I can just tell you, I need help,” and you will always find the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness.

Look up that phrase, and just do a search, and find out how many times that happens in the Psalms, how many times that happens when God is telling us who He is, through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. How many times the prophets will be preaching and then say, “For the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness,” right? Even when He revealed Himself to Moses, that’s what He said.

But then He’s a just God and He says, “But He will… He’s a just God. There is a recompense for sin and God is fair.

Second, we need to understand our shattered dreams. And under this I have three subsets, and I don’t want to develop this too much, but sometimes your dreams are shattered because you’re set up for failure.

In other words, dreams are built on expectations. In other words, I expect certain things. If you expect certain things that aren’t true you’re destined for disappointment.

Okay, here’s some expectations. I’ll be happy when I meet so-and-so. I’ll be happy when I earn x amount of money. I desire all of life to go my way and when it does then I’ll be happy. Expectation: Life is fair, good things will happen to good people. If I follow God I’ll be happy and everything will turn out right.

Now, you may not actually say those things. I have news for you. None of those things are true. None of those things are true. Life isn’t fair; it’s a fallen world! The apostle Paul said: “All those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus,” here’s the promise, (you want to claim one?) “will be persecuted.”

Jesus said, “In the world you will have,” what? “Trouble! Tribulation! But be of good cheer.” He doesn’t promise that things are going to go great. He promises He’ll go with you when they’re hard, and when they’re great, and when… every other time.

Life isn’t fair. There is no formula. If you obey God and you do exactly what He wants, you’ll never get cancer. A drunk driver will never go left of center. All your kids will turn out right. That’s American stuff. That’s not in the Bible.

You have a good and loving God, who is absolutely in control, and there will be pain and difficulty, no matter what you go through, and you will make mistakes and people will make mistakes, and you will experience suffering and hurt, and the God of the universe will frame you, and use you, and conform you to the image of His Son, and allow you to have intimacy with Him and others, in the midst, probably in the suffering more than any other time. Painful but true.

“For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His sake,” Philippians 1:27. “Experiencing the same conflict, which you heard to be in me and now see in me.”

The second way our dreams are framed, they flow from what I call “Universal longings.” If we had time to develop it, these three things all come from Genesis chapter 1 and 2. Before there is sin in the world God makes Adam, He makes Eve, He makes mankind, He says certain things like, “Multiply, it’s not good for a man to be alone.” So God knows relational connection.

He says to them, “I want you to have domain, treat the earth well, but I want you to be a co-creator, I want you to make a difference, I want you to make impact.” And so these three longings are in your heart.

It’s the longing to be intimately known and loved. You don’t have to teach a kid that. A baby cries; baby doesn’t know anything. You take that baby, they cut that umbilical cord, and you drop that baby on a mommy’s chest, and every one of us until the day we take our last breath have a deep, abiding longing to be loved and to be known just for who we are.

That’s not wrong. God made you that way. But I want to tell you, in a fallen world, you need to find someone who will love you that way all the time and never let you down. And there is only one person who will do that, and they’re not a person of flesh. So, if your expectations are there is going to be a person that will do that, you’re kind of set up for a shattered dream.

The second is the longing for a better tomorrow -that there is hope. “Be fruitful and multiply!” There is no sin in the world and God said, “I placed you here, make a difference! Multiply! There is a better tomorrow, there is going to be more of you.”

All of us live with a sense that every single day, wherever your life is, wherever your job is, wherever your marriage is, wherever you are with your kids, there is the sense of what makes life… that tomorrow can be better. It’s called hope.

Someone rightly said, “Hope is the oxygen of the soul.” You lose hope, it’s like… that’s built in.

The third longing that we all have is the longing to leave a legacy, you want to make a difference. Everyone wants to make a difference.

There is something in you, you want to see, if you have kids or people in your job you want a legacy, you want to make a difference. It’s built in. So all I’m saying is that you need to understand shattered dreams, one, get your expectations clear. Realize there is universal longings that are going to move you toward fulfilling those and if they don’t get fulfilled what you and I will do is we’ll try and fulfill those in unhealthy ways.

And the final thing is that dreams are built around imperfect people, in an imperfect world, that we can’t control so they almost always shatter.

It doesn’t mean your dreams were wrong, it doesn’t mean they’re bad, but it means that in a fallen world here’s what I want you to get: God wants to use your shattered dreams, and my shattered dreams, to be an agent of growth, an agent of meeting Him in a way that we never would, because when our dreams are shattered, where our hope is and what we wanted to happen, there is a vulnerability in our soul, where God can fill us and meet us in ways like never before.
And so what I want to do is walk through Ephesians chapter 1 verses 15 to 23 and show you how the apostle Paul talks about how shattered dreams can actually lead to transformed lives. Where you can take the pain of our shattered dreams, and allow us to come and run to God, and begin to do things in us that we long to see happen but because we’re human, if we didn’t have shattered dreams, we wouldn’t go there.

God wants to fulfill your dream of being intimately known and loved. You have that need, I have that need, that’s a dream, that’s a good dream.

Now I’m going to be honest with you, I want Theresa to give that to me in someone I can see, and my expectations are very reasonable. I only want it about ninety-nine percent of the time.

When I place that demand on my wife, if you place that demand on your children, or on your friends, you’re just set up for failure.

What if the only person that could ever fulfill my deepest longing to be known and to be loved is Jesus?

So, listen to what the apostle Paul does. “For this reason,” he opens up, “for this reason.” Every time you get a, “For this reason,” you need to go back, he’s looking back. For what reason? Paul would say, “Remember that long sentence I wrote?” “Yeah.” “Since you have every spiritual blessing in Christ, for that reason, and since that reason means His Spirit has sealed and you, have an inheritance, and you’re secure, and you’re redeemed, and you’re adopted, and because all that’s true of Jesus, He’s bolted you with Him, for this reason,” now what he’s going to pray is that what you already possess in your relationship with Him, you could begin to experience.

And notice, the way he thinks, it gets from your head to your heart is, you know what Paul is doing right now? He’s praying. “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking,” it’s a tense of the verb that means repetitive, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you,” it says, “the spirit of wisdom and revelation.”

In your notes put an “a” and then make a small “s.” See, we already have the Holy Spirit. Translation here, he’s asking, “I want God to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.”

The word “wisdom” here is discernment. “Revelation” is that God would open the truth. In other words, I’m praying that God would give you a spirit of wisdom and discernment about who you already are and a revelation, you know that “ah-ha” moment that, “Oh! I am adopted, I am redeemed, I am loved, I am free, I am secure.” And so that you may know Him better.

And you’ll notice that “you may know” is in bold. There are a couple different words in the Greek New Testament for “know.” One is a factual knowledge. In other words, two plus two is four, you need to know that fact.

Another is a different word and it’s a relational knowledge. It’s a knowing that comes by time and relationship, and that’s the word he uses here. He says, “I want you to, all those facts, all those truths, I want you to relationally feel at home, that Christ is in your heart. I want you to feel, and know, and experience better, that you’re valued, that you’re paid for, that you matter.”

And then the question is how? Ask the Father to reveal Himself to you. See, what’s really happening here is, the apostle Paul is saying we all have shattered dreams. The only one that will ever come through for you one hundred percent of the time is the Lord. So, the greatest thing you can ever do in dealing with all your shattered dreams, is to get to where you experience and know who He is, so that you’ll know that.

There are days where your kids won’t love you the way you wish. There are days your mate won’t love you the way you wish. But if you’re grounded and know He loves you, you’re sustained and the shattered dream doesn’t have to shatter in your life.

First and foremost, the apostle Paul says to this church, “Here’s what you need in this pagan world of Ephesus and the temple of Diana here, and prostitutes here, and worldliness here. Here’s what you need. Here’s who you really are. I’m asking God to give you a spirit of wisdom, and insight, and revelation about who you are in Christ that you would know Him better. Because He’s the only one that will love you consistently and never let you down.”

Is that awesome or what? So is that not different from, “You’re supposed to have a quiet time. You’re supposed to pray. If you’re really hot you should memorize some verses.”

You know the verses you ought to memorize? The ones that speak to the greatest need in your heart. The ones where you feel like, “Oh, I want to feel God more but I don’t… well, you know what? He’s near to the brokenhearted so I’m going to write that down, I’m just going to read it over. And I’m going to pray those verses back to God when I feel confused. I’m going to write in my journal how I feel, and I’m going to offer it up to God, and…”

“Lord, help me! I don’t know how to pray, I don’t know what to do with this kid, I don’t know what to do with this marriage, I don’t know. You know what? My lands, I was a financial planner, now my house is upside down. Help!”

God answers those prayers.

The second key is God wants to fulfill your dream of having a better tomorrow. God wants to give you a hope and a future, and He’ll never let you down.

Now, it won’t be in the way that you want, necessarily. It won’t be exactly what you want, and it won’t happen at the time that you want. Other than that it’ll be perfect.

But he says, notice he keeps praying. He says, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Well, there is a purpose. “In order that you may know.” Circle that, if you will, because that’s the other word.

In other words, you will know, by rock solid facts, what? The hope to which you’ve been called, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and then we’ll see in a minute, and His incomparably great power that is for us who believe.

Here’s what he says, he says, “I’m praying also that the eyes of your heart,” in other words, the part where you see by faith, and it says, “may be enlightened,” literally a very excellent translation is, “The eyes of your heart, having been enlightened.”

So, he’s certainly praying for what will happen in the future, but what he’s saying is, now that you’re in Christ, the eyes of your heart, your relationship with God, you see now in ways that you haven’t seen before and since He has done this, what I’m praying is that you’ll start to understand three things.

Three rock solid facts: The hope to which you’re called, the riches - notice it’s not now of your inheritance. Look at the text, what’s it say? - the riches, glorious inheritance, in the saints. It’s God’s inheritance. You’re His kid. When you came into the family, He’s excited about you. [Paul’s] praying that we would understand we’re valuable to God? Yeah! And the power that’s available.

And so those are rock solid facts. And he says, “The hope to which you are called.” Put a little box around the word “hope.” When we use the word “hope” in English we say things like, “I hope things go well, I hope it doesn’t rain, I hope the pizza comes on time.” Those are wishful thinking.

This word, the word “in hope” is like the anchor of your soul. We hope that Jesus will return. When the Bible uses the word “hope” it means absolute certainty. God said it, God promised it, it will happen.

And so what he’s saying is, “I want you to know, as a fact, as a bedrock that will never shake, I’m praying, since your eyes have been enlightened, that you would begin to understand the absolute hope that you have.”

You will have shattered dreams of different magnitude depending on your life, your journey, and where you’re placed for God’s purposes. But here’s the hope that won’t change: Jesus is real, heaven is real, He lives in you, you’re headed there, and He’ll be with you until you get there. That never changes.

Your kids may not turn out right, you may never get married, you may never have the financial success, you may never be on the island in your dreams with your loved one walking on the beach in your golden years. Da, da, da, da, da, da, da.

By the way, don’t get me wrong. Any of that stuff you get, God bless you. I mean I hope I get some of it too. It just can’t fill you up. It just can’t be what I’m thinking life is going to be all about.

He says, “I want you to know about the hope of your calling.” It’s the same word he used up in chapter 4 when it says, “You’ve been chosen, you’ve been called.” Same word.

He wants you to know that’s a certainty. Ask the Father to give you an eternal perspective. See, that is the antidote to shattered dreams.

The first antidote is be in relationship with God the Father, who loves you in a way that no matter what other people do… does it hurt? Of course, it hurts but it can’t destroy you.

And then you ask God, “Will You give me an eternal perspective? Would You help me to understand the hope that I have?” And then this is one of those verses and I look, “And would You help me to grasp the riches of Your glorious inheritance?”

Now, think about this, okay? This is one of those lofty theological things but would you just try and lean back?

There is an eternal being, outside of all time and eternity. He had no beginning; He has no end. He is simple. And by that, I mean He doesn’t have parts. He’s one essence: God in three personalities, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And in the mind and the heart of God, before the foundations of the earth, He has a plan. And He decided out of all the galaxies we estimate now but it keeps growing and expanding that there are billions of galaxies. Two hundred billion or plus. There are over two hundred billion stars in our simple, one little galaxy, the Milky Way, just fairly small.

This One, who created all that, has decided, in one planet that is situated in such a way that it’s ideal for life, as we know it, that He would create you and me and mankind.

And He would watch us, in our violence and selfishness, kill one another and have wars and realize that in our rebellion that from the foundations of the earth, giving us freedom, that He would send His son to live an absolutely perfect life, born in a virgin, born of a virgin so He could be fully human and yet fully divine.

And after living this perfect life, He would die upon a cross to pay for your sin and my sin, and the sins of all people of all time. And then He would rise from the dead, not as some mystic religion somewhere, but in space-time history with over five hundred people who would be eyewitnesses, who would talk to Him over a forty-day period, and then visibly rise.

And then He says to you, His Church, “When you trust in that work and become a part of His family, He gets an inheritance.” Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. You are precious, you are magnificent, you are a part, now, of His family. He sees you as an inheritance. Are you kidding me?

I mean, if a king or a queen, or some president, or, in our day, I think some owner of some football team, if they said, “I want you to come and be a guest in my suite and I have five mansions. I’ve got one, I just want you to live there. It’s on me. And, by the way, I’ve just written you into my will. I mean wouldn’t you go, “Are you kidding?” And the God of the universe says, “You are My inheritance.”

When you begin to think, with an eternal perspective, of who God is and what He’s done, do you start to see how that shrinks those shattered dreams? Do you see how they’re hurts, and I don’t mean to dismiss them, and I don’t mean you don’t face them, I don’t mean you don’t weep over them. But they don’t have the power to make you stuck the rest of your life. You’re a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Finally, he’s going to tell us that the third fact is to know the power that you possess currently. God wants to fulfill your dreams of leaving a legacy, to make a difference in the world. And you’re saying, “I got shattered dreams. I don’t have the power to do that.”

He goes, “And the incomparable greatness of His power for those who believe. The power,” that is the working of His mighty strength, “which He exerted in Christ.” And then He’s going to give three quick examples of His power.

Now, you’ll notice in your notes the word “power,” the word “working,” the word “might,” and the word “strength.” Circle all those words. The apostle Paul wants you to get how much power is available. And he took his Greek lexicon and he took four different words to say, “You know what? Here’s what I want you to know.”

The word “power,” the first one, we get our word for dynamite. It’s dynamic power, the energy that makes things happen. When he says here, “the working,” we get our word, it’s “energon.” We get our word “energy,” it makes things move. And the word “might” here, it has this idea of, that things that transpire and happen. And then finally “strength” is the ability to overcome obstacles.

And so he goes, “I want you to understand, I’m praying, that somehow from your head, to your heart, to your soul, that you would grasp not only this hope of your calling, that you are a part of God’s inheritance, but you have this incomparably great,” and I mean, it’s so great you can’t get your arms around it, “power,” and then he says, “which He exerted.” And he goes, “Let me just tell you the kind of power that lives inside of you.”

Illustration number one: When He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms. That’s the kind of power that lives in you. Same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

Illustration number two: Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the age to come. Here’s His power:  he’s giving us, in the Hebrew mindset, all those levels of different angels, and authorities, and powers - Jesus is over all of them. That’s the kind of power that lives in you. Not that you have that role, but that same kind of power, that God had in giving Christ that reign.

And then notice, “And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”

And he says: he’s praying - this is a great thing to pray for yourself, to pray for your mate, to pray for your friends, to pray for your roommate, to pray for your kids - “I’m praying that you might know, not experientially but as a fact, from your head to your heart, that you have a hope that no shattered dream can break because you have a hope in His calling.

That you have an inheritance. But bigger yet, you are a part of God’s inheritance. And that the same power that raised Him from the dead, and the same kind of power that made Him ruler over all these different levels of powers and angels and things we can’t see, and the same kind of power that places Him over everything forever in every way, are you ready for this? It dwells in you.

See the Christian life isn’t getting something new or something different. The Christian life is tapping into, by the power of the Holy Spirit, abiding in His Word in the community of God’s people, that which you already possess.

You’re in Christ. How? Ask the Father to help you comprehend the supernatural power available to you today.