There have many times in my life when the thing I was hoping for simply did not happen or was very late. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
Deferred simply means delayed or displaced. It doesn’t mean that the thing we are hoping for is not coming. It means we don’t set the timetable. I think this is the real issue. Who is God? Me or Him? Who am I to tell Him when it should be happening when He was getting all the ingredients together for the final project? It reminds me of the presumption of Job.
Hope displaced can set us on a never-ending roller coaster ride from hopeful to hopelessness. Double-mindedness sets in. It can even progress into anger and accusation towards God, myself and others. Sadly, we often don’t recognize this, because we shove it down.
According to Strong’s Concordance, deferred means to “delay” or “draw out”. That implies that the thing hoped for is probable and will eventually come to pass. But it is a journey, not a rocket ride. Just as it is necessary for me to gas up and pass many mile markers and even stop at rest stops as I travel, so it is necessary for our journey with God to have the same time-consuming, but oh so necessary delays. We may even breakdown on the way, but we repair what is necessary and move on.
God’s promises are true, but His timetable is rarely ours. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We can be sure of what we hope for even when it remains unseen if God, Himself, promises it to us. Hope is displaced when we assume that God will do something for us merely because He has done it for others. We can be full of anticipation and excitement one minute when it looks like our desires will be fulfilled, (things are going our way) and emotionally wrecked the next as we realize that little is changed or that the situation has gotten worse.
Too often I have gotten my eyes off the small victories, because I was so eager to get to the finish line on my timetable. Performance and drivenness push me to set unrealistic goals.
All of this takes a toll not only on our physical body, but our spirit as well.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5
I get to choose my response to circumstances or His promises. He promised me that He would never leave me nor forsake me.
[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
In the midst of our worst trials, we can hold onto God’s promise that He will always be there for us, but don’t miss the part where we are exhorted during the journey to “be content with such things as we have” – even when it looks like we missed it or that God failed us. Our circumstances can color the truth. God may seem distant, unfeeling, uncaring. Nevertheless, that promise is sure. He will never leave us nor forsake us. So who will I listen to? The voice of the circumstance or the Word of the Lord?
Hope deferred can crush my heart if I expect God to stop the trial immediately and fix the situation. My heart can leap for joy when I see a small crack in the clouds above, then sink to my gut as darker clouds move in. Again the focus is on the circumstance, not the promise.
There are directions to properly set up a non-computerized telescope. You need to align the mount with the North Star. Sounds straightforward enough. However, if the directions to do that lived south of the equator, perhaps in Australia, and you used those directions, you would never be on course, because you are looking from an opposite direction. It is the same with our lives. We can do things according to the Word or we can align our lives with the world view and totally miss the galaxy that the Lord has prepared for us.
So today I am trying to be still and choose things that bring me joy. I love writing. There are many facets of writing woven in my life from work to leisure. However, I have really fallen down in my thank you notes and notes of encouragement. My “secret” or private writing should be spirit led and full of hope, a gift to those who receive it. It should be as important as the writing I do that has a public audience.
Don’t know where this journey will take me but I am eager to begin. Won’t you join me? Who can you encourage? Who is going through a “hope deferred” season that you can come alongside?