hope deferred

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

Solomon got it right when he wrote those words so long ago. They are still true today. It is comforting to know that someone else has felt what I feel so keenly – the pain of disappointments when what I hope for doesn’t happen. Then what do I do? Give up or keep on hoping and waiting? It occurs to me that what the “waiting” looks like in my life might be important. Is it an idle waiting with no action on my part? Or is it something that looks quite different? There’s a story in Luke chapter eleven about a man who goes knocking on his neighbor’s door at midnight, requesting bread to feed his late arriving visitors from out of town because this man is out of food and has nothing to feed them. The neighbor, already in bed, doesn’t want to be bothered at such a late hour but because of the man’s persistence in asking, the neighbor does get up and give him all that he is requesting. Jesus finishes this story He is telling His disciples with these words,

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

It would seem action on my part is a prerequisite, if I would see my hopes fulfilled and my prayers answered. First, the action of prayer – to petition God just as the man in the story petitioned his neighbor for some bread. I may need to continue praying without giving up, just as the bread seeking man in the story continued in his asking until he received what he sought. Besides simply asking, I am told to seek and to knock, also actions, but increasing in intensity. I am told, don’t simply ask but seek out for myself what I am hoping for and even then, something more than seeking may be needed. When I find what I am looking for, the door may be closed. I may have to knock and the door might not open immediately. Here’s where persistence comes in handy. I may have to keep on knocking if I really desire what it is that I am seeking. Praying, asking, seeking, knocking – all actions that I need to take repeatedly. These are ongoing actions that are to occupy my time as I wait for whatever it is I am hoping to receive.

So my waiting is actually filled with activity. God promises my persistence will pay off. In Jeremiah 29:12-14 God says,

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’ ”

I am to call upon Him, to come to Him and to pray to Him. He will listen, He will reveal Himself and He will set me free from all that holds me captive – my sin, my fears, my doubts. This is the promise contained in the words of Jeremiah 29:12-14. A promise to me and a promise to you, too, dear readers. And God is faithful to keep His promises.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

“He remembers His covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac.” (Psalm 105:8-9)

God is faithful, but the waiting to see all that I hope for come to pass is hard. Habakkuk understood how hard hope deferred actually is. He wrote these words in Habakkuk 2:3,

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Habakkuk was waiting too. He was waiting to see all that God had promised take place but things weren’t looking good. Habakkuk questioned why God allowed evil to go unpunished for so long. He was growing weary in the waiting. But he had God’s promise to sustain him while his hope was being deferred. This calls to mind these words from Galatians 6:9,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

If I don’t give up hope, if I don’t give up praying and asking and seeking and knocking – He has promised that He hears me and He will answer in His perfect timing. Though my hope is deferred, I can say along with David,

“I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.” (Psalm 30:11-12)

sincerely, Grace Day

2 thoughts on “hope deferred

  1. I love your second to the last Reference from psalms about waiting on the Lord. When I was going through lots of stuff with my son, worrying if he would be alive or not, god gave me that passage..wait on the Lord …and the land of the living. That was the Hope god have me to hang onto. And he did just that. Thanks be to God my son was still in the land of the living!


  2. I will continue to pray, ask, seek and knock. What an encouraging message!!! The scriptures you used are such a blessing in waiting and knowing the Lord is working it out. Thank you!


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