The Power of Hope Deferred
One of the most difficult things to do is to hope when hope has been deferred . . . especially when it has been for a very long time. We know. There are things that we have been hoping for, believing for, and waiting for. What is even more challenging is that we believe these things are also what God desires for us. A mystery here? Absolutely. And many of you know what we’re talking about. Maybe it is a health problem that has persisted for a long, long time. Maybe it is an area of emotional or spiritual healing that has not happened, yet much prayer and action has occurred to obtain this healing. Maybe it is a vocational or ministry-related area that just hasn’t materialized. Or maybe a financial struggle has persisted in spite of you trying to be a good steward of your resources. Whatever the issue, when hope in something that has been deferred, delayed, or way overdue, it can really do a number on our hearts. Scripture confirms this: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12, NIV). Or how about the way The Message states this: Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.
Dealing with Heartsickness
So what do you do when your heart is sick from a long-standing, unfulfilled longing or need? We stay (or become) honest with God as we acknowledge and grieve the pain and ongoing area of loss . . . and we bring our heartsickness directly to Him. We ask for the prayers and support of others. We try to place our hope in what we know to be true–the nature of God and His Son, Jesus–and that He still loves us and is for us . . . no matter what. And we have to continue to remind ourselves of this truth.
Hoping Against Hope
I’ve always been intrigued by the phrase, “hope against all hope,” that is used of Abraham in his response to being told by God that he would be the “father of many nations,” when he did not have a child and Sarah was barren. Again, The Message states it pretty clearly: When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do (Rom. 4:18).
One More Quarter to Go
You may have heard the phrase, “the natural speaks of the supernatural.” Well, I (Jerry) had a “moment” last week when this really hit home. Because Michigan State University is our alma mater (one of them), we were interested in the football game they were playing on New Year’s Day against Baylor University in the Cotton Bowl. We weren’t able to watch it, but when we checked the score it was 41 to 21 with Baylor leading after the 3rd quarter. We were shocked and disappointed to say the least, and we basically “wrote them off” for any possibility to pull this game out. Later that day we decided to check again–just to see how much they lost by–and we were again shocked but this time NOT disappointed. They had won the game with the score 42 to 41, scoring 21 points in the final quarter! The words, “never give up” were loud and clear and it felt like they were more than just “my thoughts alone.”
The game referenced above was “messy.” There were some great plays and some not-so-good plays from both teams. Michigan State didn’t win this game by playing a perfect game. They won by leaving the first three quarters behind them and believing that they could still win in the final quarter. We, too, can be messy in our faith and we don’t have to “do it perfectly.” We just can’t quit. So in those places where it seems so hopeless and that it will never change, remember there is still “one more quarter to go.” So let’s ask God for more faith to “hope against hope,” to never give up, and to believe!
We invite you to check out our Book, DVD and Study Guide on The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself — How Loving Yourself the Way God Does Can Bring Healing and Freedom to Your Life. All of these are available at jerryanddenisebasel.com.
NOTE: If you or someone you know is in need of finding a safe place for emotional and/or spiritual healing and restoration, please contact us at The Father’s Heart Ministry through our web site at www.fathersheart.com or email us directly firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We are located in the North Georgia Mountains in a retreat-oriented environment and have established opportunities for ministry to individuals or couples for time periods as little as a few hours to as long as five days.