“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)
Life’s trials and tests can sometimes make us feel like the hope that we have is being deferred, our dreams are less and less likely to be realized. The Bible states that hope deferred makes the heart sick. When it seems like we’re losing our hopes and dreams, we risk losing something of even deeper value: our “Godfidence.” Godfidence is our faith in God as our Comfort, Healer, and Provider, and that He’s got good plans for us. Without it, we’re tempted to just give up. We quit dreaming, and quit trying. We quit joy.
Hope is an anticipation of a desired future. Hope keeps you going when nothing around you seems to work. Hope is the heartbeat of future dreams and goals. When you have no hope, no matter how realistic your goals or how rewarding the promise, you will not continue to persevere. You will quit.
What causes our hopes to be deferred? Our hope is deferred when we put our hope in the wrong thing. Whenever our hope is bound by anything tangible, it is at risk of being deferred. We live in a sinful world and no matter how comprehensive our plans, how righteous our walk, or how worthy our goals, they will not always come together in the way that we envision them or plan for them to happen.
Our hope must always be based on the unchanging nature and character of Jesus Christ. In Luke 24, Jesus has just been crucified and two of His disciples are traveling to a village called Emmaus. As they travel, they begin to talk with sadness about what had just occurred in Jerusalem. As they talk, Jesus draws near them and asks why they are so sad. They respond by recapping how their leader was condemned to death and crucified. Their hope was that He would redeem Israel, but now that hope has been deferred. Jesus rebukes them for their faithlessness, reminds them of the Scriptures and reveals Himself to them.
They were hopeless because they had taken their eyes off Jesus, forgotten the Scriptures, and they were solely focused on short-term loss and immediate desires. Whenever we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on our circumstances, our hope gets deferred. Hope deferred can cause our faith to be shipwrecked or cause us to lean to our own understanding and try to “help God” by creating our own path. That was the case with Abraham and Sarah as they were waiting for the child of promise. They became impatient and felt like they were getting old, so they made arrangements with their maid for her to carry a child for them. The result was Ishmael. That act has caused problems until this day.
How do you prevent your faith from shipwrecking or coming up with your own plans when your hope is deferred?
- Remember that deferred does not mean denied (Isaiah 30:18)
- Make sure your hope is based on God’s will for you (Romans 12:2)
- Distinguish between God’s will and your personal dreams and desires (Psalm 37:4-5)
- Ask if this hope is anchored on your faith – Jesus is our hope (Colossians 2:7)
- Know that God will work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28)
- Keep in mind that your timing is not God’s timing (Ecclesiastes. 3:11)
- Rejoice for such is the will of God concerning you (Philippians 4:4)
- Seek wise counsel from others (Proverbs 11:14)
Like you, my wife and I have been on a long journey to realize a vision that we believe is from God but we did not realize it would take this long. We constantly have had to renew our faith and keep our eyes on Jesus so we can persevere. What keeps us encouraged is the joy of seeing the many lives that have been transformed and the Kingdom businesses that are creating jobs and supplying resources to the Kingdom due to our obedience. There is also the joy of knowing that we are being used by the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The struggles we encounter help to keep us on our knees, maintain humility, and keep our eyes on Him.
Has your hope been deferred? Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, do not yield to the temptation to create your own path. Do not give up.
Rather, endure the suffering (that comes with the sense of loss and personal disappointment) with joy, knowing that He who began a good work in you shall complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. He will work all things together for your good because you love Him and are called according to His purpose.
My prayer for you today is that God will grant you the grace to hope in the midst of your trials and to have renewed faith in His purpose and plan for your life and business.