Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. | Proverbs 13:12
So I’ve been spending some time in Proverbs lately and recently came across this verse. It struck a tender spot in my heart…especially that first part: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
I know that. I get it. I’ve lived it. I’m living it.
There are things I hope for in this life: I hope for travel, adventure, and excitement; I hope to actually become a fairly decent photographer; I hope to grow into a skilled artist; I hope I’ll learn to be less OCD; I hope I become the kind of cook that doesn’t need to measure everything out, but just looks, smells, tastes, and knows; I hope to have children someday; I hope to be married to a man who loves Jesus more than anything else in this world one day; I hope to grow bolder in the faith; I hope that I will REALLY become less and that He will REALLY become greater; I hope to fail Him less and honor Him more by the time I leave this place.
So many hopes, and many of them deferred. At the rate my travel plans are going, I doubt I will see much more than Texas and any place we don’t have family. My artistry pursuits are severely handicapped by my need for everything to be straight and perfect and in-line with my OCD nature. Needless to say, things don’t change much when we move into the kitchen. I have zero patience, which is something I’m pretty sure you have to have if you’re going to be a mom. I’m 25 and single, to the dismay and horror of every Malayalee, coworker, and patient I know (yes, even my cancer patients are worried about me). I feel no bolder today than I was yesterday. I still care about myself way more than I care about God. And I am almost confident that I fail the Lord more NOW than I did at the start of my journey with Him.
Talk about hopes deferred! And this is just the short list! Having our hopes dashed hurts our hearts deeply. We wonder why so-and-so got all her hopes and dreams while we sit here twiddling our thumbs, waiting for prince charming, or a vacation, or a 9-month break from heating pads and unexplained crabbiness, or a lightning bolt sent from God that’ll juice us up with some extra spiritual understanding and growth…and maybe even some creativity to make our crafts a little more Pinterest-worthy.
Given, some of these are less-than-serious hopes. But the fact remains: hope deferred makes the heart sick. We know this, because we experience it often. But you know what we experience even more? A desire fulfilled.
It’s true. It’s hard to believe after all the whining and complaining I did in the previous paragraphs, but it’s true nonetheless. I have experienced a million more desires fulfilled than hopes deferred. So have you. Even if your whole life seems to have been one long series of unfortunate events.
As humans, we tend to focus on the negatives, on what we lack, on hopes deferred, rather than on finding joy in and remembering the little blessings, the daily accomplishments, the desires fulfilled. Dwelling on these hopes deferred makes our hearts sick and blinds us from seeing the tree of life sprouting within us – the one rooted in our desires fulfilled.
For most of us, we’ve never gone hungry, thirsty, or without shelter. Many of us have good health, strength, and even wealth. Hardly any of us are absolutely alone without even a single friend or relative. All our basic, necessary desires have been fulfilled, have they not? And yet, here we are, found wanting. Wanting more excitement in life, wanting more money, wanting more freedom, wanting more skills, wanting, wanting, wanting
to fill us up where we feel empty, lacking, alone.
Remember this little gem from Sunday School?
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. | Psalm 23:1
Do we really understand this verse? Because if we did, we would know every need, every desire is met in the Lord, our good, sweet, Shepherd. What’s more, our hope is found in Him too. The hope He offers is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced – it’s a hope that resonates from far beyond our wanting minds, and from deep within our needing souls. More importantly, it’s a hope that CANNOT and WILL NOT be deferred. Ever. Need proof?
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. | Romans 5:5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, | 1 Peter 1:3-4
In Christ, we have an imperishable, undefiled, unfading, living hope that will be fulfilled. That’s a promise.
Perhaps it’s time for a few changes. Instead of focusing on all our hopes deferred, maybe we should focus on our desires fulfilled, because as Proverbs 13:19 says, “A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul…” If we’re going to hope for something, may it be for the imperishable, undefiled, unfading, living hope that we are guaranteed in Him. And if we’re going to hope for someone, may it be for our sweet Savior, Redeemer, and Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. After all,