This morning as I continue to rest in the Lord, I've been chewing on a meaty morsel of scripture from Proverbs 13:12-
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Two days ago, I shared my perspective on what Oswald Chambers calls "gracious uncertainty" - trusting in God's character through our uncharted circumstances; finding that we who are born into a living hope through Christ have His divine presence resident in us as all the hope we need: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
So what is "hope deferred" - and why does it make the heart sick? To defer something means to put it off, to postpone it. There is a delay that causes a desired outcome to not be fulfilled. So often, this results in disappointment and even heartache. We hope and pray and hope some more, but we don't seem to see the results to our prayers.
But the scriptures give us an opportunity to see beyond our temporal human desires and peer into the unchanging heart of God. Abraham, the father of our faith, chose to believe God's promise that he would be the progenitor of many nations, even when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac on the altar. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed (Romans 4:18). He did not defer his hope by pleading with God to remove this trial; he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3). He didn't waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised (Rom. 4:20-22).
Now for the clincher: The words "it was credited to him as righteousness" were written not for him alone, but also for US to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead
(Rom. 4:23-24). Abraham placed his faith - the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things unseen - in God and God alone. He knew that God had made him a promise to be the father of many nations and that the only way this would be accomplished would be through his son Isaac. He knew that God would never deceive or forsake him and he chose to believe God, even when the life of his only heir was threatened. He did not defer his hope but chose to put it in the One who could raise the dead. His longing was fulfilled and became a tree of life: a tree for the healing of the nations.
One of the most comforting verses to me through many years of trial has been Romans 5:5 - And hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out His love for us through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given to us. There have been times when I have been almost afraid to hope - and then the Lord calls this to mind: hope does not disappoint us. If God has deposited His Holy Spirit in believers as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come, how could we possibly be disappointed? If our Hope is living in us, what more do we need? There is no need to defer - to put off - hope and cause our hearts to be sick. We can put on Christ, our very present help in trouble and the lover of our souls, and know that He is the Tree of Life that will bring healing to you, to me, to the nations. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.