For much of the world, 2020 was more of a nightmare than a dream. The physical, emotional and economic struggles brought all the nations of the earth to their knees. But finally the first light of a new day appears to be dawning. It is time to dream again.
Most of us know the song, I Dreamed A Dream because of Susan Boyle’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent. April 11, 2009, Susan stood on the stage in her frumpy dress and outdated hairdo. The audience and judges snickered and laughed during her interview, enjoying the misery of this out-of-touch want-a-be in an out-of-place position. But, when she began to sing, everyone sat stunned. In a clear voice that was perfectly on pitch, she sang. “I dreamed a dream of 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. …”
It seemed that Susan Boyle was singing her own song, a dream of youth faded and gone. After a moment of stunned silence, the crowd leaped to their feet in a standing ovation for this obscure Scottish woman who lived alone with her cat. In November of 2009 she released her first album. It immediately became the number one best selling album in the world.
The song Susan chose to sing that night comes from the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel,Les Miserables. It is the song sung by Fantine, an unwed mother ostracized in nineteenth century France for her “moral failure” and forced into prostitution in order to support her child. Anne Hathaway was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe for her performance of Fantine in the movie version of the musical.
In 1862, commenting on Fantine, the character in his novel, Victor Hugo wrote, “What is this history of Fantine? It is society purchasing a slave. From whom? From misery. From hunger, cold, isolation, destitution. A dolorous bargain. A soul for a morsel of bread. Misery offers; society accepts. The sacred law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization, but it does not yet permeate it.”
As we emerge from the COVID crisis, many are beginning, once again, to dream their dreams: school hallways that fell silent during COVID are beginning to ring with the laughter and energy of students who, for a year, had to settle for zoom; high school graduates can again dream of moving away from home and pursuing their education on college campuses; restaurants are again opening for service; businesses are hiring; shoppers are returning to malls that appeared to be ghost towns; families are planning vacations; churches that had to settle for online streaming are starting to gather with hugs and handshakes and hymns of praise.
Whatever difficulty we have suffered, whatever our loss, God wants every person to have a dream. He has said, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope,’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
The most important thing we can do in 2021 is to discover God’s dream for our life and to help one another dream again.