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The Giant of Disappointment

God can use your disappointment for his glory.

In the musical version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the character Fantine sings a sorrowful song about disappointment called “I Dreamed a Dream.” The song begins with the words, “I dreamed a dream in time gone by; when hopes were high and life worth living.”

She goes on to describe her youthful vigor, as she chased pleasures and fun, fell in love with a young man a bit older than her, and spent a summer with him. But for Fantine, an unexpected pregnancy and the departure of the father made her dreams come crashing down. As a single mom in 19th-century France, she found it difficult to survive.

She worked in a factory for a while, but then she was fired because the foreman found out about her child. She sold her hair and the fillings in her teeth to pay her rent, and finally she had nothing else to sell but herself. She ends up on the streets as a prostitute, a hollow shell of what she once was.

Eventually, Fantine dies from the sicknesses she contracts as a prostitute. The song ends with the words "I had a dream my life would be, so different from this hell I'm living; so different now from what it seemed; now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

For many of us, that is our experience. The reality is, as Scott Peck put it in The Road Less Traveled: “Life is hard.” All of life’s music is not in perfect harmony. What starts out to be a symphony becomes a cacophony, and discordant notes often dominate the score. And with Fantine, many of us could sing, “Life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

The writer of Psalm 107 could have joined in on that song. He had experienced dreams that had been shattered and hopes that had turned to great disappointments. ...

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Joel Sutton is the senior pastor at First Evangelical Free Church in Minneapolis, MN.

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