RESTORING AND ADVANCING HOPE
Pro 13: 12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it’s a tree of life.” This scripture is amazing. In one sentence it presents one of life’s greatest issues – hopelessness – and in the same breath offers a solution. In this article I want both identify the problem and elaborate on the biblical solution. If we could follow the wisdom laid out in this scripture and learn to apply it to our lives we would never have to live another day discouraged, depressed, or disappointed.
Firstly hope deferred makes the heartsick. A biblical definition for hope is, “a sure and joyful expectation of the very best outcome”. Recently my wife Renee got news that she would be acquiring 2 brand new Canon 5d mark3’s, a particular kind of high quality camera body. Renee is a professional photographer and had been believing for just one of these cameras this year as her other cameras were getting a little worn. When she got the news that she was getting 2 (through an amazing set of miraculous circumstances) she was over the moon to say the very least. She was filled with hope, a sure and joyful expectation that she was about to receive the very best outcome! A week later a courier came to our door in the morning with a big box. We both knew what was in the box. Renee got a big smile on her face and began to giggle and dance as she commenced opening the box. To me this is one of the clearest illustrations of biblical hope. There was no doubt in Renee’s heart, only vibrant, expectant hope, that as she opened the box she would unveil the very thing her heart was joyfully expecting.
If she opened the box that morning and the box was empty or filled with something less than what she was expecting there would’ve been an opportunity for hope to be deferred. There are many good people that are living wounded in their hearts due to something not working out the way that they expected it to. And things don’t always work out the way we – often rightfully – expect them to. Every time we step into a situation expecting good to happen and it doesn’t we are confronted with an opportunity to allow the hope we carry to be “deferred”. If that is what we allow and we do nothing to bring about the restoration of hope as I have defined it the “sick heart” process begins.
There are many problems with this sickness of heart. One of the big issues is that the culture you steward and develop on the inside of your life is the atmosphere that you release in and through your life. If that inner culture is wounded and sick there is a high likelihood that hurt and sickness is being projected into the atmosphere that surrounds you and onto the people around you. Hurt people more often than not end up hurting people. The world you allow on the inside of you will become the world you walk in on the outside, the one that others experience when they interact with you. Hope deferred hurts, and hurt people hurt people. So what’s the answer to “hope deferred” this thing that we all experience from time to time?
But when the desire comes it’s a tree of life. A cure to hopelessness and the sickness of heart that comes as a result is found in the way we steward, relate to, and handle the desires of our hearts and the hearts of those around us that have come to pass, dreams that have become reality.
A fulfilled desire is a dream of your heart that has manifested into a tangible reality. Here’s an example from my life. I remember when I first became a Christian and reading John G Lakes testimonies about cancerous tumors falling off of people’s bodies on to the floor. I began to dream about the possibility of seeing that for my self one-day, of having the opportunity to lay hands on someone with a tumour, feeling the power of God flow through me into them, and seeing the tumour literally fall off of their body. A desire came into my heart to see that for my self, that may sound gross to you but it’s just something that I personally had a desire to see.
For years I held onto that hope, dreamed into that dream, fed that hunger, and prayed into the manifestation of that desire. I’d seen tumours dissolve or disappear before but had not seen one fall off of someone’s body until last year when I had my “desire fulfilled” moment. A lady in India had a tumor erupt out of her throat as I prayed for her! I released the love of God on her and she immediately vomited the tumour onto her handbag lying at her feet. She hadn’t been able to talk or breathe properly for six years. Immediately she could talk and breathe perfectly and the tumour was completely gone from her throat. At that moment of desire fulfilled something amazing happened… God planted a life tree in my heart.
A tree of life is a tree that produces life. When you go to an apple tree what can you expect to receive or eat from that tree? You can expect to eat the fruit of that tree. You can expect to partake of the goodness of the apple. Just the same way as there are apple trees that produce apples, there are trees of life that produce life fruit. God has invited us to walk through the orchards of Heaven planted in our hearts and the hearts of people around us and to eat the fruit from these trees of life. What is the result of such feasting? Life and life everlasting, rivers of living water erupting out of our inner most being! The result of eating life is being filled and nourished with His divine life. According to the proverb, eating this fruit is a direct antidote for hope deferred.
In reality where do we find these trees and how can we practically eat their fruit and be filled with the actual life of God that washes away discouragement, depression, and restores the vibrancy of hope? You literally find these trees in the field of fulfilled dreams and in the testimonies of the good things God has done. To eat it is to learn the art and lifestyle of both continually remembering and celebrating all of the amazing things He’s done in our lives and in the lives of others.
Feasting on the fruit from those life trees in our lives is the (or at least a) remedy for hope deferred. When we are in a circumstance where we feel the feeling of hope fading we have a choice to make. We get to choose weather to let it fade by lingering in what didn’t happen or we can shift our focus off of what He didn’t do and onto what He did, off of what He hasn’t done and on to what He has done in our lives. When we make this choice we literally make the choice to either harbor sickness of heart or to experience an influx of vibrant hope and divine life.
I have made a choice in my life that when I’m presented with situations that don’t turn out the way I’m expecting them to that I will chose to go back to those trees of life that He’s planted in my heart and eat their fruit. I’ve made a decision to celebrate His goodness in order to recalibrate with His flow of life in me and through me. As we actively thank Him for His goodness and stew in the things we have seen Him do we become tangibly filled with His life and His hope. To remember His goodness in an active and persistent way opens the door and aligns your life to be continually hopeful, encouraged, and filled with His life.
Lets chose to hold onto hope by feasting on the fruit from the fields of fulfilled dreams both in our live and the lives of others. Let’s chose a life of celebration.