Les Miserables ~ a beautiful and poignant book that became an unforgettable musical. I remember seeing the play for the first time in 7th grade. I still have the shirt I bought from that performance! It captivated me ~ emotions and all. I have had a heart for it ever since. This is probably why I included parts of it in my book The Warring Soul.
Of course, the character that moved me most was Fantine and her song, “I dreamed a Dream”. Having been wooed by a young man one summer she has a baby out of wedlock. He leaves her and she is left to fend for herself and the baby alone, which was a difficult and grueling task. She commits herself to do everything she can to support her daughter, whom she leaves with some (little does she know very untrustworthy) innkeepers. You cannot help but be moved for her willingness to sacrifice everything she has and everything she is for the life of her daughter. She shows unconditional and pure love. She sings this song at her most desperate of times. Crying out! Fantine, like everyone one of us had dreams of the life she would live, but life got in the way. She sings:
“I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
and dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung no wine untasted…
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame…
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…”
( Les Miserables 1980 lyrics Hebert Kretzmer)
You can hear her pain, suffering and her longing for the life she had dreamed would be. She never gets her dream of an ending; she ends up dying a painful death. Yet she does die with a hope: the hope that her daughter will be well looked after. This is what she had been fighting for all along.
I think we can all share with Fantine in the misery of what life can sometimes be or throw at us. We have all grown up having dreams, only to have those dreams dashed by life:
~ You dream of getting older and driving only to have to pay for a car, insurance, gas, etc. Or you get in a car accident or get a ticket. The ideal of driving quickly fades.
~ You dream of going to college only to realize that you are responsible for your decisions and your decisions can come at a cost. Living on your own also means bills, dishes, feeding yourself, taking care of the place you are living, etc. You must be mature and reasonable.
~ You dream of getting married only to find that it takes real work; to merge two separate people into one takes unending sacrifice and unconditional love. Again having to navigate bills, health, houses, cars, jobs, etc., but as a partnership now wherein you might not always agree. This is part of why so many turn to divorce. Or perhaps an accident or health takes your spouse away from you and the dream of growing old together.
~ You dream of having a family only to be hit with endless sleeplessness nights, anxiety on how to raise them, pressure over whether or not you’re doing right, health problems, school struggles, disobedience, and most importantly their relationship with the Lord. Your life becomes again an endless game of sacrifice and unknowns ~ praying you are not screwing everything up.
You get the picture. Life is never going to be what we dream. It is in fact a cycle of broken dreams. So what do we say then, when life has continually killed the dream we dream?
Maybe the answer lies in how or what we dream?
God continually tells us (and shows us) in His word that life here will be hard and unrelenting. That Satan will come ~ like the song “The tigers come at night” ~ and tear our hope apart. This world belongs to sin. There will be terror, mistakes, sin, fear, confusion. This is why God says to not lay up our hope here on earth. To not long for this world or the things in it, but long for that which we have in Heaven ~ to build the kingdom and the eternity that awaits us there. We need to make HIS dream our dream, and when eternity comes our dream will finally become reality.
Don’t get me wrong. There are amazing blessings here on earth that God graciously grants us. Even with the hard times, we take so much love and comfort from our spouses, our children, our family and friends, the roof over our heads, the car to drive, etc. We can’t make these our dreams because life will always come. Our hope is not in these things, but in the God who gives them. The Lord gives and The Lord takes away ~ blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)
This is why I love the book of Ecclesiastes! God grants Solomon great wisdom and Solomon shares this wisdom with us in Ecclesiastes. This is exactly what Solomon comes to realize: that life is life ~ cruel and unrelenting, but with great times of joy and blessing. You have to take them both. There is a time for everything Ecclesiastes 3 so eloquently states. In Ecclesiastes 12:1 Solomon says, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.'”
So what is our dream then? Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” And Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…”
God’s dream for us is to live holy lives and make disciples ~ to be a testament to Him, so that we can have the true fellowship He designed us for ~ when we get to Heaven. If we align ourselves with this dream then we will stop being disappointed when life’s dreams are dashed or torn away. Our view will stop seeing the glass as half empty and we will look at the fullness of what God has given to us. First, in seeing the sacrifice of His own son to make His dream a reality for us all. Secondly, in His gracious gifts in what we DO have here on earth. If we place all we have into this world and our dreams of what it can offer us, we will always be let down.
The point being that worldly dreams will always let us down, because this world will always let us down. Yet God never has and He never will. His plans for us never fail. Put your dreams and hopes in Him. Align your dreams with God’s and the beauties of all that may come with life will shine in a new and realistic way. Your life will never be perfect, but God’s love and plan for you always are!
He has made everything beautiful in its time… I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor ~ it is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:11a,12~13)
About the author:
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her wonderful husband, Greg, her son, Justin, and her daughter, Katie.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, substitute teaching at her kid’s school and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshipping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.