If we shadows have offended,
Think but this (and all is mended)
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear.
–Puck’s Epilogue, A Midsummer’s Night Dream
It was only a dream.
This is how Shakespeare decided to reconcile the chaos he created in the wonderfully entertaining tale of a different kind of star-crossed lovers in A Midsummer’s Night Dream.
In his play, devious fairies deceive and manipulate a cast of would-be spouses causing confusion and mayhem—and the tumult is what makes this a comedy. Just when you think it cannot get any worse, it does. With so much upheaval, the reader wonders how, of if ever, restoration of order will occur.
In the end, order does come, but not through careful exposition or reconciliation, but rather through Shakespeare pressing a literary reset button—it was all just a dream.
In our day, we watch as our culture disintegrates with the latest “breaking news” update, the questioning of all societal norms, and just general confusion and hysteria. We grieve with the revelations of the latest failings of our leaders, both political and within the churches—in other traditions, and yes, even our own.
Things are happening at such a rate that we do not recognize the world any more. We don’t feel safe. We don’t know what kind of world or churches or even what kind of Southern Baptist Convention our children or grandchildren will inherit.
What is more, we know that this tumult doesn’t come with any Shakepearean reset button. We may hope and wish that it is all just a dream. But hoping in dreams is always misplaced.
For before tumult, cultural disintegration, presidential drama, the sins of church leaders, denominational generational change, God is and was the same (Heb 13:8). He does not change (Jam 1:17). God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps 46:1).
Is this a dream? No, it’s actually worse … and better. Psalm 73 shows us why.
There we are given a autobiographical journey in to the mind of the Psalmist as he persevered through a time of despair and temptation—and time when he, no doubt, wished all he experienced was a dream.
In chapel this week at Midwestern Seminary & Spurgeon College, I preached from Psalm 73 to explore:
- The Psalmist’s Purpose, vs 1
- The Psalmist’s Temptation, vs 2-15
- The Psalmist’s Rescue, vs 16-28
We live in dark and uncertain days, where Mr. Shakespeare’s literary reset button does not exist. It’s not a dream.
Yes, the world is wrong-side up and our hearts naturally along with it. Without the intersection and intervention of God’s new mercies, both redemptive and restraining, we are desperately sick (Jer 17:9) and prone to wander.
But, as we lament these things—and we should grieve and lament the sin in our lives and in the world–lest we fall to the temptation that God is smaller than the evils in the world, we should also call this to mind:
God has not changed and his mercies are still new every morning even as we await our Blessed Hope, the Lord Jesus, who gave himself to redeem us (Titus 2:13-14). We have a God that is bigger than the world and all that is in it. Believer’s in Christ uniquely and always have this message to share.
Is this all dream? No, it’s far worse … and better.
To hear the entire message you can watch this recording: