“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
A young couple, we know and love, recently went through an exciting, sometimes agonizing, process of adopting 2 young preschool children. Some days the adoption procedures appeared to be going well, but on other days Roger and Jenny endured setbacks that created days of hand-wringing waiting.
Calls were made to friends, including us, to lift up prayers for this situation. My wife and I prayed often for Roger, Jenny, the adoption process and their hope of becoming parents. After months of waiting, the adoption was approved.
When have been times of anxious, or fretful, hoping and waiting in your life? Hoping to find Mr. or Mrs. Right? Waiting for a doctor’s test result? Anticipating your graduation? Hoping to hear good news from a job interview? Waiting on God to answer a prayer? Hoping your mortgage application will be approved? Hoping an adult child will make better decisions?
Proverbs 13:12 makes 2 truths clear, and implies a third one.
- First, time spent hoping and waiting for something can play with your emotions. In fact, hope that is delayed, or never becomes a reality, makes you feel sick.
The Bible is filled with heart-sick testimonials. One of those comes from the Old Testament preacher, Habakkuk, who cried out, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen!” (Habakkuk 1:2). Yes, hope deferred makes the heart sick.
- A second truth comes from Proverbs 13:12. This truth is almost insulting. The cure for a soul-sick heart is to continue to hope.
If you are weary and heart-sick from hoping and waiting, then you need to hope and wait some more. The second half of Proverbs 13:12 reads: “But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” What this means is that good things are worth waiting and hoping for, so don’t’ quit hoping.
The writer of Psalms 42 and 43 confronted an anxious situation in his life that made his heart sick. He asked himself a question numerous times: “Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?” But he knew he could not quit hoping, so he came to this conclusion: “I will put my hope in God.” In other words, his delayed hope for a solution to his problem had made him heart-sick, so he kept on hoping. His decision replaced his heart sickness with heart optimism.
- Proverbs 13:12 implies a third truth. You need God’s take on things.
Bible hope is more than wishful thinking. Bible hope is confident assurance. So what’s implied in Proverbs 13:12 is that we need to put our faith and trust in the promises God makes to us in the Bible.
If you are a sports fan you know Tim Tebow’s pro football days with the New York Jets haven’t been rosy. The head coach actually said that having Tebow as a Jet had been “a complete disaster.” Knowing Tim Tebow’s strong faith do you think he has quit hoping and praying for God to show him his next steps? Do you think he has just given up and vowed never to hope again?
Here’s my point. In your Bible reading and prayer times discover the will of God. Ask God to show you His plans. Seek God’s desires for you. And when you have God’s take on what you are hoping for, then you can keep on hoping with full assurance.