"We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel."--Luke 24:21
Our dreams are fragile things. They are courageous, adventurous, full of hope. But they are fragile. Like when mommy blows for you a colorful soap bubble that makes its appearance, revealing itself to the world, floating on a breath, eager for its great adventure, containing all your hopes for the future.
The Bible is filled with stories on the death of dreams: Moses' agony when he is disallowed from entering the promised land. Jeremiah's lamentation as he stands witness to the destruction of Jerusalem. The teacher in Ecclesiastes, Qohelet, and his existential crisis of nihilism, his desperate cries of "Vanity!" The Psalmist, as God's people sat down to weep for Zion by the waters of Babylon. And the ultimate: Jesus' cry of anguish, "Eloi! Eloi! Lama Sabachthani!"
When you realize the end of a dream you come to moments that seem to slow down. Your mind wants to review the situation and grasp for any semblance of an explanation for what went wrong, "Is there anything I could have said or done differently?" This is where the regret sets in. As your life flashes before your eyes, you long for those good moments and you loath the bad ones.
"We were hoping he would be the one to redeem Israel." There is so much packed into this one statement and we can quickly glance over this line because we, the audience, already know what these two guys didn't know. Jesus is alive! Everything is going to be okay!
It was a disparaging scene for those two as they walked back home to Emmaus, haunted by the horror of the past weekend, glad to be alive but tormented by the guilt of abandoning their best friend only to watch from a distance as he was executed in the most grotesque way imaginable. They walked slowly, kicking the gravel, remembering the good moments, remembering the anticipation of a Messiah--THE Messiah. The expectations not just of personal dreams fulfilled but of an entire culture's longings--longings that have been building up for hundreds of years. And they were right there! It was happening to their generation. They were right in the middle of it. Right at ground zero. Then it was gone. As quickly as a bubble bursts, it was all over.
Our dreams are fragile and when they are shattered it is really okay to not rush to the "Everything is going to be okay" attitude. It's okay to ruminate a bit. It's okay to lament, to leave space for the disoriented "but I thought…" moments because if you skip over them you are actually skipping over a prayer. Leaving space for your heart to say, "But I was really hoping for…" leaves space for Jesus to reveal himself to you.
When the bubble bursts look to your Savior and watch his tender smile as he says, "Don't worry. Let's try again."
Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. I confess my tendency to either wallow in my misery or completely disregard it. Give me the grace to bring my dreams to you, the one who knows that the death of a dream always leads, astonishingly, to a glorious resurrection and has the power to raise me to new life. Amen.