Posts

How To Get Up After Your Dreams Are Crushed

Written By Josiah Kennealy, USA

One of the biggest life hopes I had when I was a kid was to play professional baseball. That dream was shattered when during my freshman year of high school, I was cut from the high school baseball team.

This made me feel like a failure in life; I felt so small and I wanted to hide. My identity was wrapped up in being a baseball player. I desperately wished my life would be different from the sad reality I was in.

I’m sure that you can relate to this feeling of emptiness inside you when you’ve had a dream crushed. Maybe it was a break-up, or a situation that didn’t turn out as expected. It could be that you failed a class at school, lost a scholarship, or didn’t get into your dream university. Or an injury that took away your abilities.

There comes a point where you will want to get up from the knockdown. For me, this happened when I received encouragement from my parents and some close friends. I started to redirect my energy towards other projects: working a part-time job and getting more involved at church. I ended up working at that part-time job for over eight years, which really helped build my career and my skills for the future. And the people I met at church have since become my inner circle of friends.

When you do find some strength to get up, here are three steps that can change the game for you:

 

1. Look up.

A while ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land and walk where Jesus walked in Israel. I’ll never forget waking up next to the Sea of Galilee, seeing the foggy mist rise off the water as the sun came up in the morning, and seeing the rolling foothills. That morning, I read from Psalm 121:1-2, in which King David wrote: “I look to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

 Anytime I have a tough meeting, a terrible day, or feel stuck and helpless, I do one thing: I look up. I pray the prayer of Psalm 121 and recognize that my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Even though my circumstances don’t change in that instant, my perspective does. Looking up gives me help, confidence, and hope of a brighter future. It heals my heart from heartbreak.

Failure is not final. The creator of futures, the giver of dreams, and the restorer of promises—our God himself—is where your help is found. He may restore your dead dream, He may give you a new dream, or He may simply give you the strength you need to face today. So, look up!

Ever since I returned home from the Holy Land visit, I have had a small card taped to the ceiling of my office. It says: “The Sky Is The Limit.” It’s only when you look up, that you begin to realize that the sky is the limit, and your perspective changes.

 

2. Reach up.

What if your situation hasn’t changed?

I’ve found that the next step after looking up is to reach up. God has extended His hand of help faithfully to generation after generation; He won’t fail you and turn His back on you. Another psalm that offers hope and a promise is Psalm 94:14: “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.” You are not abandoned and you are not alone.

So reach out and receive God’s strength. You have not disappointed the God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. God may let your good dream die because he has something different and great in store for you. One way of looking at your situation as you reach up for help is to ask yourself the question: “What is God showing me?”

Sometimes, God helps us by providing people who can help. I’m in my twenties, and I’ve found such help and hope from mentors who are in their forties, fifties, and sixties. They have offered insight, advice, a listening ear, clarifying questions, and encouragement.

One of those people who has been a constant encouragement is my high school youth pastor. Pretty much any time I’ve failed, experienced a setback, or found myself discouraged, I’ve looked up, and then reached up by reaching out to my friend, Brent. Time and time again he has pointed me to Jesus and reminded me of God’s faithfulness in my life.

Who is someone who can help you take the next step? Mentors can come in the form of teachers, pastors, supervisors, parents, grandparents, among other wise people. God has placed the right people around you in your life—reach up to God and others for help!

 

3. Dare to dream again.

The biggest life-lesson I learned from getting cut from the high school baseball team was that there was more to life than athletics. God can give you a new future. God redeemed my brokenness in a few ways. First, He gave me a second chance. When I got to college, a small Division III university in Minnesota, I went for the open tryouts for the baseball team . . . and I made it!

Beyond one baseball season, God gave me a new dream that was bigger than just me—and it was selfless. This dream came one summer afternoon after reading the Bible, praying, and day-dreaming in my parents’ living room while on a break from college. God showed me a motion-picture in my head of what He wanted me to do with my life: Reaching college students and young adults for Christ! I could see thousands of young people on their knees, bowing before the God of heaven and reaching up to Him in surrender, experiencing personal breakthroughs in their spiritual lives.

I’ve never felt more alive than when I am working on the dream that God has given me. Through my daily time with God through His word, prayer, and worship, I grow in my love for Him and find joy in Him. Also, every time I meet a college student one-on-one, pray with a young couple, or speak to an audience of young adults, I see a partial fulfillment of that dream God gave me. It brings such a smile to my face and my heart to know that this dream is from God, for God, and coming true through God!

Just like God gave me a new dream, He may have a new dream for you. Letting go of past hurts, heartbreaks, and hang-ups can be hard. But dreaming again starts with looking up to the heavens, where your help comes from. Then it’s reaching up to God, the lifter of our head, and to mentors, friends, and family members whom God has placed in our lives to bring wholeness and healing. Lastly, you need to be brave enough to dream again.

God’s Unexpected Plan in My Failed Job-Hunt

Written By Aryanto Wijaya, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

I have dreamed of becoming a journalist since entering college. My love for writing and travelling were my primary reasons for choosing the journalism course.

But as graduation drew near, I was torn between two choices: passion or salary? It was a tough decision, especially since the salary of a journalist in the city of Yogyakarta was average. After some thought, I chose the latter. To get a job with a high salary, I would have to work at a big company, I thought to myself.

In the first week after my thesis defence, I went to a job fair in the nearby city of Surakarta. Loaded with 30 copies of my resume, I rode my motorcycle from Yogyakarta in high spirits. But my optimism faded when I realized that none of the jobs offered interested me. Most of the companies at the job fair only offered marketing positions.

I wasn’t going to give up yet. I joined a LINE chat group that consisted of hundreds of job-seekers; we got updates of job offers and job fairs every single day. Still, nothing piqued my interest.  A week after the first job fair, I went to another one. There were two national-scale companies that interested me this time. I sent my resume to both companies, hoping to pass the initial rounds of selection.

The first one was a cigarette company. Even though it was a large company, I was hesitant about working there because I did not smoke. But I went ahead to try for the job. Though I passed the initial administrative phase, I failed the next day during the personality test. Among 300 candidates, only 75 passed the personality test.

Still, I was not discouraged. I prepared myself for another personality test with the second company. But again, I failed. As some of my friends who had come along with me also failed, I was not overly disappointed.

When the job fairs didn’t work out, I also tried applying for jobs online. Though I applied to five different companies, none of them got back to me.

 

Reconsidering my reason and purpose

Truth be told, these failures did not really disappoint me. Instead, they got me thinking hard about my reason and purpose for working. Do I just work for money? Is it pride that makes me look for big companies? Don’t I want to develop all the journalism skills and knowledge that I acquired in college in my work?

Some weeks later, I saw a job posting for an editor of a website managed by a non-profit organization in Jakarta. I was interested because even though the position offered was not my dream job, it was still closely related to journalism. But I was a little hesitant because I was still hoping I could work in a big company that would give me a high salary. So, I applied to another famous company—even though the position that I applied for was not related to journalism. At the back of my mind, I really hoped that I would be accepted to work there.

But the thought of applying to the non-profit organization lingered in my mind. So I decided to take some time off to order my thoughts and visit a friend who lived a bit further out. I prayed, asking God to give me a clue about what should I do. Every time I prayed, my heart pushed me to apply for the position of editor in that non-profit organization. I asked my friend, and he told me to do it, since I had nothing to lose anyway.

Eventually, I applied to the non-profit organization and went through the recruitment process. A week later, I received two e-mails on the same day. To my surprise, both the famous company and the non-profit organization wanted me to go to Jakarta the next day for a follow-up interview.

Just a few months earlier, I had been worried that I would not get a job. Suddenly, I had two interviews and I was confused because I was going to have to pick one out of the two choices. Afraid of making a wrong decision, I prayed again and again, and also asked my friends for advice. Eventually, I decided that I would pick whoever accepted me first—as long as the salary was high enough to cover my necessary expenses.

I went to Jakarta the next morning. After the interview, the non-profit organization offered me the position of web editor and I accepted the job offer—just as I had decided on the previous day. I then sent an e-mail to the other company to cancel the interview and apologize.

 

Rejoicing in my role as an editor

After I accepted the job offer as an editor, I stopped looking for other jobs. I also left the LINE group chat. As the reality of starting work set in, I began to feel afraid. Would I be able to adjust to my new environment? Would I be able to do well in my job? But I remembered the verse, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34b). I prayed that day after day, I would grow in my obedience to God.

The first month of working as an editor was challenging. Besides adapting to a new environment, I also needed to learn from scratch all that I knew about editing. The knowledge that I had acquired from college was not enough to help me fulfil all the aspects of my job which comprised editing, writing and networking with contributors.

As an editor, I receive articles by contributors from various parts of Indonesia every day. Each article is unique. Some are about the writer’s opinions, and others are about their life experiences. Among the many writers, a few stood out. There was one who went through many accidents in life, but never gave up and was still able to say that God was good. There was another who shared the heart-breaking story of how her relationship ended without any clear reason. There was even a 71-year-old woman who shared her testimony about her physical condition and blurred vision.

Reading these articles brought me a lot of joy and motivation and convinced me that God is the one who prepared this job for me. It has been seven months since I first started my job and I really enjoy the experience so far.

I used to think that an ideal job was a job that paid well. I thought that a high salary could give me happiness because I could then buy anything I wanted and travel to new places that I haven’t visited. But my current job as an editor has changed my perspective.

With my current salary, I can meet my daily needs, support my parents’ life, and travel around Java Island. I am also able to save some of my money. But more than just working to earn money, I work so that I can glorify God, just as Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3: 23).

As a recent graduate, I still have hopes to continue my studies one day, but I believe that my current task is to give my all for God through this job. When I place God above all else in my life, I believe that He will provide for all my needs. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

Are you struggling to find a job? Don’t give up and keep praying. Surrender all your worries to God and let Him work in your life so that one day, looking back on your life experiences, you can see His wonderful plan for your life.

“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42: 2).

Why Am I Disappointed in Ministry?

Written By Jasmine Koh, Singapore

I’ve always believed that hard work pays off. Sacrifices must be made—be it time, entertainment, or sleep—if results are to be expected. It is therefore no surprise to hear how many would stay up late to complete their assignments, edit their masterpieces, or study for an exam.

I apply this attitude to both my studies and my involvement in Christian ministry. Besides serving in church, over the past four years, I’ve been volunteering at a para-church organization for youth where I share the good news of Christ to unbelieving youths on the streets and disciple small groups of believers.

Occasionally, the time I invest into preparing Bible study materials and facilitating comes at the expense of sleep and social life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about these sacrifices—after all, this work ethic has long been ingrained in me.

But, despite my efforts, my group members seemed to display stagnancy in their spiritual growth. On better occasions, there would be four to five of us. But academia and school commitments proved to be real competing elements, and whenever competitions and examinations drew near, there would be a drop in attendance. Week after week, Bible study sessions and prayer meetings would see a regular attendance of two attendees—myself and one other student.

It was extremely defeating.

I remembered seeking God intently for His direction and for affirmation, wondering if my work was acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. Was there something I had to do more of? Or did I have to let go of something?

But then I thought: It can’t be that ministering to others through Bible studies is not effective enough. After all, bible study is one of the most fundamental habits of Christian growth. So why did I feel that I was not doing enough?

Over time and after seeking godly counsel, I arrived at this conclusion: Either what I was doing was clearly against biblical principles, or my heart was simply not right with God.

I believed it was the second case. Clearly, my heart was not aligned with God’s. What I saw as the end goal in ministry was not what He saw. I had been unwittingly distracted by the things of God, instead of focusing on God himself. In other words, my focus on the attendance, the quality of discussion, and the materials had consumed my focus on the One I was doing all this for.

Psalm 37:4 (NASB) says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When our hearts are aligned with God’s heart, we will naturally desire what He wants and experience joy. Yet, despite knowing this, I had allowed myself to be caught in a tiring, fruitless cycle of focusing on the peripheral things. I had held on too tightly to these aspects of ministry that while necessary, were not critical. My disappointments in ministry came because I sought joy in getting results.

Disappointment is a natural response to our unmet hopes and expectations. But it’s how we respond to our disappointments that reveal our intentions. Too often, I become despondent when things don’t go according to how I envision and I lose steam to continue—instead of  surrendering the work to the Lord.

Through Paul’s letter to Timothy in 2 Tim 3-4, I’m reminded that what God requires of us is to persevere and to hope in Him—regardless of the outcome. Despite Paul’s tribulations and persecutions, he fixed his eyes on Jesus and remained faithful to the task of advancing God’s kingdom work.

If there is one thing I need to tell myself when faced with disappointments again, it is to learn to let go and seek God. My prayer is to continually see the big picture that God has in His ultimate plan of redemption and salvation so that in any role I partake, whether big or small, I place my joy and assurance in the Lord that He will bring it to completion.

But while I pray that the Lord gives me the joy of knowing Him well, I must also not neglect taking concrete steps in improving how I teach and share from the Bible. For instance, I should communicate regularly with my students to get feedback on their challenges and ways to improve the sessions.

Psalm 127: 1 (NASB) sums it up well: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” A ministry can only grow if it is God-led and God-centered.

May the joy of knowing God spur us to excel in His work, and not the other way around.

 

Let Go of Self to Find Self-worth

Written By Clementine Chng, Singapore

When I was 15 years old, I would often ask my Dad what he thought I was good at. Our conversations always ended the same way—I just hadn’t found what were my strengths yet. This answer always left me feeling dissatisfied and disappointed.

At that time, I simply had no idea what I was good at. I was in one of the worst classes in my cohort, and my grades were just slightly above the passing mark.

I was in the school badminton team, but my skill level put me between those who shouldered the hopes of winning for the school, and those who were just there to learn and gain experience. I felt lousy because my coaches didn’t give me tips during match breaks, as they expected me to lose. I often longed for a miraculous win so that I could prove to everyone—as well as myself—that I was good at something.

It didn’t help my self-esteem that my sister had talents that were easily noticed. Her illustration skills were amazing, while mine manifested as messy doodles. She also inherited my dad’s ability to assemble and fix appliances well, while I somehow kept breaking electronic devices. She was kind and gentle, while I seemed to inherit the family’s explosive temper.

I started comparing myself with others obsessively, and trying to find things which I could be better at. When I found that the virtual world could give me the affirmation I sought, I turned to gaming. The more time I spent in a game, the higher the level I achieved and the more self-esteem I had. My reputation also increased within the virtual world. For a period, gaming provided the validation I desperately desired.

Basing my worth and identity on my virtual achievements worked for a little while, but I soon realized that no one valued my in-game achievements. My parents and teachers saw gaming as useless, unproductive, and a complete waste of time. Once again, I was left disappointed and scavenging for my self-worth and the approval of others in different ways.

On hindsight, I now realize that God had used these disappointments to point me back to Him and show me who He is.

 

He used my disappointments to point me back to Him

As I strived for the approval of others over the years, the same cycle of disappointment and failure repeated itself. Whether it was in sports, academia, or extra-curricular activities, I could never get the affirmation I yearned for, no matter how hard I tried. The countless disappointment and rejection revealed to me that as long as I longed for approval by man, I could never ever be truly satisfied. I either became prideful and craved for more, or became dejected by the lack of it. In resignation, I was forced to shift my eyes away from man and look to God.

He used my struggles to show me who He is

In my struggle, I saw a God who doesn’t see me as the world does. I saw a God who sees my blemished past and ongoing struggles, but still loves me more than I can imagine. I saw a God who doesn’t care if I’m good or lousy at certain things, but instead, cares about whether I have been a good steward of my abilities. I saw a God who looks so deeply and lovingly into my soul, and tells me that my worth need not be placed in anything of this world, only in Him. I had to quiet my own thoughts that screamed otherwise, and let this truth sink in.

Through His word, God reminded me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). The Maker of the heavens and the earth knows when I sit and rise (Psalm 139:2), and knows me by my name. I don’t have to do anything to deserve this love. I cannot do anything to deserve this love. He loves me even though I am so imperfect, and it is in this love that I find my worth.

 

Over time, God also revealed the gifts and talents He had created in me. Now, when others ask me what I am good at, I can answer with joy and confidence that God has created me with unique gifts. I can feel deeply for others. I can write. These gifts may be small and insignificant in the eyes of the world, but I know that God can and will use them mightily, for His glory.

Even so, I still struggle today. I get discouraged when I look back at my failed relationships, whenever I compare my Grade Point Average with that of my friends, or scroll through impressive accomplishments posted on my friends’ Facebook feed. It is easy to start comparing myself with others again, wallow in self-pity, and be paralyzed by the thought that I am never going to be good enough.

The difference is that now, I desire to find my worth in Christ. I no longer want to see my worth as the world sees it, nor as my feelings dictate. Instead, I want to lay down at the cross every urge to prove myself. I want to let go of these thoughts of inferiority that I have allowed to shape my identity. As I discover more and more about myself, I want to use all of me to worship God, knowing these good works in me are wonderful blessings from Him, for Him (Ephesians 2:10).

We are God’s children because He first loved us. Before we did anything to deserve God’s love, God loved us and gave us our identity. This is a simple truth. However, it is difficult to grasp, perhaps because we are so attached to the idea of earning love and worth with our works. But I pray that this truth may sink in and bring us to our knees before our awesome God, and that we may exchange a lack of self-worth for one that is anchored in Christ.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)