Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
About this series
Overcoming the Pain of Your Past
Pain. It is part of the human experience, and one of the things that helps us grow to maturity. But for some of us the pain we have experienced feels crippling. Broken promises, dysfunctional families, damaged relationships and rejection keep us from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised. Sometimes it's a challenge just to get through the day, let alone to extend love and strength to those around us. The Bible, however, offers great hope for pressing on. From the book of Ephesians, learn who you really are and why the pain of your past doesn't have to obscure God's plan for your future.More from this series
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 we just play all kind of games, because when you have pictures in your mind of how you think life would turn out, and it really doesn’t, it’s painful. And we usually don’t face it, we usually don’t know what to do with it, and we usually don’t grow from it.
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.”
But you talk with people, I don’t, believe me, I don’t purposefully go around and eavesdrop but if you study in coffee shops, you know, there is a table here, and a table here, and a table here, and a table here, even if I can put in earphones and I’m studying sometimes… I mean, if you listen in coffee shops to what people talk about. I mean, try it sometime. I mean, in a reverent kind of way.
And almost, I mean, eighty percent of the conversations are two people talking about another person who isn’t here, who is the reason for their problem.
Or they’re talking about what’s wrong with a system somewhere, and why it’s really their fault. It was their mom, it was the government, it was the school, it was this.
And people spend their entire life… you know what they’re really doing is, they’re not owning, A: their responsibility; or B: they’re not owning the reality of, “This is where I’m at.”
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 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 are 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. 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.
“When I find this person…” When you find this person you will meet another fallen person just like you, that has all kind of hang-ups and sin, and will make mistakes, and it will be hard to go through life together, and you’ll have to learn to love them unconditionally, and they’ll love you, and guess what? It’s tough, it’s hard, fasten your seatbelt, love God and go through it. And you’ll wound each other.
But if your expectations are, “When I find this person, ah…” Well, then the first time they act like a human being it’s like, oh, your dreams are shattered. And then you believe this baloney and all these movies, “Well, this must not be the right person. I’ll just find the next person.” The divorce rate goes up another twenty-five or thirty percent, the pain goes on.
So they’re built on expectations. Here’s what life is: Life is hard and God is good, and justice will ultimately prevail when Jesus comes and makes everything right. Until then, welcome to the spiritual NFL.
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.”
See, when you go to China, when you go to different places where it is illegal to be a Christian, when you go to Saudi Arabia, when you meet with leaders from Iran and pastors from Iraq, I got news for you. All those verses about suffering, and enduring, and persevering, that’s their hope! They laugh at some of the stuff that we believe.
Love Jesus and everything is going to go okay? No! Love Jesus, you’ll probably die. And it’s worth it! And it’s a holy privilege to get to suffer for Him. I don’t get that in my Bible studies. Do you see how expectations frame your dreams?
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.”
I mean no one gets up and thinks, “Okay, I’m six years old, I’m going to go through twelve years of school, I hope I get all Fs. I mean, all Fs. And then I’m going to get a job and I hope I get fired.”
I mean, 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. You want your kids… My dad wasn’t a Christian until he was in his fifties. But I will tell you, I left the house a few times, and this is my Marine dad, “Chip!” “Yes, sir?” “What are you doing tonight?” “Well, I’m going to do, do, do, do, do this and this and this.” And I think he could read between the lines. “Young man, don’t you forget your last name is Ingram. And don’t mess that name up.”
If you knew my dad, all that stuff about not being afraid of your parents, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and the fear of my father was the beginning of wisdom for our house.
Now, he cared and he loved me, but you know what? There was something… it’s good to have a holy fear about certain things. But you know what? There was a legacy. Our last name mattered. Tell you what, Jesus’ name matters. Your name matters.
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. See, when I started talking about some of those early dreams when you were kid, and when you were an adult, and mid-life, and older, your body language, I could almost go around and say, “Ooh, mid-life situation, hmm, early adulthood situation, ooh, your retirement didn’t work out for you.” Okay? One of your kids…
Shattered dreams are not a high possibility. Did you ever think of that? So instead of, “What’s happened to me and how unfair and I can’t believe it and this is…” In an imperfect world, with imperfect people, you are going to have shattered dreams.
And some, 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.
God wants to fulfill your dream of being intimately known and loved just for who you are. That’s legit, right? You have that need, I have that need, that’s a dream, that’s a good dream.
I want to be known, I want to be intimately loved. 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.
I want all my kids to grow up to demonstrate that they love me by their behavior, to communicate with me, to love me, to care about me, to encourage me about ninety-eight percent of the time.
I’ve got a great wife. I’ve got great kids. And they’re not even close in the ninety percentiles. And they’re great people. When I place that demand on my wife, if you place that demand on your children, or on your friends, or on your job, you’re just set up for failure.
As opposed to what if the only person that could ever fulfill my deepest longing to be known and to be loved is Jesus? And what if I could, by His grace understanding who I already am in Christ, of what we already learned, what if I could experience that in such a way that that would fill my soul to such a degree, that in my relationship with my wife I could be more of a giver instead of a getter.
And then with my relationship with my kids instead of their performance being a reflection of whether I’m okay or not, I could love them unconditionally in a way that I want their performance to go well but it doesn’t mean I’m a good or a bad dad.
See, a lot of us have vicariously lived through our kids because they’re like those little trophies that say to the world, “I’m okay because my kid went to that school, or scored so many points, or really plays the violin well.”
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.”
That’s the first thing he does. By the way, that’s really great when you pray for your life, your friends, your family because we all tend to think about what they’re not doing right and where they need to shape up. And so what do you pray for? “Lord, help my son to be more disciplined. Help him to do his homework. Help my wife to be more affectionate. Help my husband to get more discipline, he hasn’t read that Bible in three days. Help them…” Right? Right?
What would happen if we just took a little model here and you started thanking God for what the people that you love, what they already bring.
He says, “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.” All those things that we learned earlier.
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.
I’ll never forget my son, he’s, actually I was going to say he’s my oldest but he’s five minutes younger than his brother, but he was always much bigger. And he was between about thirteen and seventeen when he went through this real window of rebellion. And to be honest now, to tell this story, part of his rebellion was his fearful father (of not knowing how to be a dad) and watching his kid go down a road, not morally at this point, but in his attitude.
And my answer, probably, was a lot like my dad’s. And I came on too strong, too hard, too quick. That was my part. Now he had full-blown rebellion. He gets to own one hundred percent of that.
But in that journey, I remember, with tears in his eyes and, you know, he lived as a pastor’s kid, and he said, “Dad, I just want to tell you something. And, honestly, my friends actually like you. They actually think you’re a pretty neat guy, I actually think you’re a pretty neat guy. I just wish you weren’t a Christian guy because I don’t think I buy any of this. And I know it really matters to you but I just, this Jesus stuff and Christianity, I just don’t think I buy any of it.”
Well, when you want to have an intimate, knowing, loving relationship with your son, and you’ve given your life, and you’re a first generation Christian, to telling other people about Jesus, and your son says…
And so he was a very smart kid and he knew how to push all the buttons in my wife, and he just kind of reframed reality and we had a time where… some of you have been here. You know, you sit up in bed after everyone has turned in, and you just talk with each other and say, “Are we being too strict? Are we too lenient? What about this? What about that?”
Our family table time, you know, just the attitude spoiled things, you know? “We’re going to pray.” “Well, I’m not going to pray because I don’t…” You know? All this stuff.
And we went through a very, very difficult season. And I remember… okay how do you respond to that? You talk about feeling rejected. You talk about feeling isolated. I adopted that boy when he was five.
And I remember in the car talking to him and God gave me my first words. I said, “Well, son, I know this might be hard to hear but if I wasn’t a Christian dad you wouldn’t have any dad at all because the biological dad didn’t care anything about you and he ran off. You’re my son because I chose you. Now, you don’t have to… I’ll never force you to follow my God. You know, son, we have very few rules in our home. You’re not going to destroy our home and you could have a good attitude. But I just want you to know it really breaks my heart, and your mom and I will be praying for you.”
So, we went through this journey and my son’s response to me was a shattered dream. And if how your kids turn out is what your life is based on, and some of them don’t turn out very well… you have ruined your whole life, somehow thinking you had the power to make all the decisions for them.
And all I knew to do was… you know, this isn’t a parenting seminar but I always had two guardrails. And I told him, “Son, you just gotta get it. There is nothing you can do for me to stop loving you, okay?”
So I took him out for breakfast, once a week, every other week. I spent time with him. Kept hoping for this great breakthrough, you know? I said, “If you’re going to go hang with your friends at our church, you’re going to come to church too, but no hypocrisy.” “Great, alright, fine, I don’t have to listen.” “Okay, that’s great.”
And the other was, “You can’t have your way. You can’t have your own, selfish way. You can’t cut it both ways so, very clearly, you’re going to respect your mom, accept her.”
And so we went through about four years of that. And it was horrendous and it was terrible. But I will tell you what sustained me was, I asked the Father to reveal Himself to me.
And as imperfectly as I handled that, and as many tears as we shed… See, if somehow he’s gotta turn out right. Somehow I gotta make him see. Somehow…
All that does is put pressure on the people that you love. Trying to make your shattered dreams be what you want them to be, almost always has the reverse effect.
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, “Your heart, 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… 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. You know, I own the Braves, and I own this and I own that, and I own Google, and I own Facebook and I just want you.”
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, 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.