Isn’t it nice to know people you can be honest with?
I ran into an old friend this morning. We have had many long talks over the years about religion, so our updates today of families and jobs were naturally viewed under a canopy of faith.
“You’re in a calling,” he said.
“That could be. But I doubt. I’m doubting a lot the past few days.”
“We have an enemy,” he reminded.
“I’m not sure if it’s that and I need to keep believing, keep hoping, and not give up on some things … What I’m aiming for requires God. I have these fears I’m headed to big disappointment.”
“Are you expecting enough of God? We have to remember how much he wants to give. We have ‘fall-back’ plans in case he doesn’t pull through for us … that’s not full confidence.”
I nodded. “I expect huge things from him. I think he’s shorted by us. We restrict him, we settle for very little, and don’t experience who he really is. I’m after more and taking risks for more, and was certain it was put there by God … but now I’m doubting. What if he doesn’t do the things I’m hoping for?”
“At the same time, we have to let his will be done, not ours.”
“I need to stop and be sure.”
“And you are, in your doubting,” my friend said. “Suffering can be useful. It makes us stick close to God, or get even closer.”
It was a timely and helpful talk. I’ve since reflected on it, and boiled my angst down to this: I’m afraid my hopes will be dashed. My heart literally aches recalling how it’s happened in the past.
I know the reality of being unable to salvage relationships that others sabotaged, of having my greatest desires succumb to the opposing will of people. I don’t want to go through more heartache. It’s tempting to not hope at all.
Then this evening, a silent, clear voice of reason had its say:
It’s not over till it’s over. Yes, those past dreams fell to the ground; those old leaves dropped from your tree. Desires that come from the Lord are like new leaves in early spring — they begin as buds. Don’t give up; don’t knock them from their branches. The day will come when your hopes, those new leaves, will emerge and flourish. Your tree of life. Your desires fulfilled.
Proverbs 13:12 (Jubilee Bible 2000) –
Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
Apparently, I’m in the “deferred” stage of hope; desires are delayed or put off for a future time. Thankfully, the little hope buds on my tree of life survived another day — I did not knock them from their branches in a quest for relief. God sent the help I needed to save them from myself. Why would he do that if he weren’t ultimately going to transform those tiny, elusive buds to full, vigorous glory?
May your desires also make it through the perilous stage of “hope deferred”. I know the doubt and agony that often happens in the wait. But don’t give up. Your full, radiant, future tree of life depends on it.