“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
Everyone has something in their life they hoped for, but didn’t get. It might be a few somethings. Maybe you wanted to get married, but haven’t met the right person. Maybe you wanted to play major league baseball, but never did. Maybe you wanted a child, but couldn’t have one. There are lots of things we hope for. Over time that hope you had didn’t come true and so you buried it deep in your heart, trying to forget it. But then things happen in your life and it seems as though God brings up that hope to your mind again. Maybe it happens a lot. You ask yourself “why does God keep bringing this up, that’s kind of mean, since I can’t have that thing I hope for?” I have asked that same question. There have been many things in my life that I have hoped for and not gotten.
I was reading a book this morning by John Eldredge called Walking with God. It’s a wonderful book, if you haven’t read it. Actually, everything I have read from John Eldredge is really great, I am a huge fan. Anyway, so I was reading about this idea of things we hope for and then don’t get and how sometimes God brings them back to our minds and why does he do this. Eldredge says that he does this for two reasons, either we are supposed to go after that hope and see it fulfilled or we are supposed to bring that hope to God and have him heal the hurt of not seeing it fulfilled. Either way, we cannot just bury our disappointment and do nothing about it, as the verse above says, it will make a heart sick. I can totally relate.
I will give two examples of how God has done both these things with hopes I have had in my life. First, would be my hope as a child of having a present father in my life. My parents split up when I was 6 and my dad just wasn’t around much after that time. I saw other girls with their fathers and really just hoped that someday my father would come around again. Well, obviously that really doesn’t happen and is usually just a childhood fantasy. For years I spent time trying to fill that void in my life with anything I could, namely boyfriends. That didn’t work and it left me more hurt than before. Finally, after I had been married a few years my dad passed away and I had to deal with that hurt again. I knew I couldn’t just bury it because it was literally making me sick. So, I faced the hurt, with the help of a counselor and allowed God to heal that hurt in my life. I was tremendously freeing to bring healing to my heart over this hope that wasn’t going to be fulfilled.
The second example is my dream of wanting a little girl. I have always wanted a little girl. I just think they would be so fun to dress up and stuff. Some would disagree, I am sure. But none the less, I always wanted one. When we found out Samuel was a boy, I was thinking, “how great Glenn will get his boy”, I was very happy for him and myself, because little boys are great too! Then Jordan came, another boy, but I was happy Samuel would have a brother. I buried my hope for a girl and went on with life. God being prompting me to have another child. So, I did and I prayed for a girl everyday for months. God said to me one day, “you will have your girl, but it will be a while”. I got pregnant and then had a miscarriage. That was really hard. I was heartsick, but we decided to try again. Another miscarriage. I was done, by that point. But then God was telling us to adopt. I thought for sure this would be our girl. Of course, Joshua is all boy! Then we got a surprise pregnancy, this has to be our girl. Nope, it’s a sweet little Elijah. I, needless to say, buried my hope for a girl. I was done with kids, I thought. But then God brought up this dream again. Everyone around me was having girls. I had two nieces with a month of each other! “Really God, that’s not very nice”, I was thinking. But He insisted I deal with this hope. So, I prayed and prayed about what we should do. He reminded me of his promise to me four years ago about us having a little girl. He told me it was now time to go get her. We were to adopt her. God is finally fulfilling my hope for a little girl. It took what felt like forever, but He was persistent. I couldn’t have chosen to bury this hope again and not deal with it. This adoption hasn’t been easy and it will continue to be trying, I am sure. It takes work and sacrifice to see hopes fulfilled. I could have said, no. But I decided that you only get one life to do those things you hope for.
God doesn’t always provide a way to fulfill our hopes. He isn’t a cosmic vending machine or genie where all our wishes are fulfilled. But you cannot just bury those dreams, you have to do something about them. Either God is calling you to do something hard to fulfill them or he is calling you to allow him to heal those hurts in your heart of that dream not being fulfilled. Action is necessary or your heart will remain sick.