When hope seems deferred
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life”.
Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)
To hope means to be expectant of a desired outcome. It means to desire for something to happen or to be the case. Hebrews 11:1 teaches us that hope is important because it is the base material from which faith in God’s word is produced. So that although faith is the all-important attitude we must have in order to please God and/or receive anything from Him, such faith cannot materialize in our hearts until we are first expectant (or hopeful) that God will give us our desire/request.
However, in our walk of faith, there comes a time when we hope in God and exercise faith for a certain outcome/result but nothing seems to happen. You fast and you pray. You make all the scriptural confessions you know plus a little more of your own. You bind and loose and anoint and sprinkle and still yet nothing happens. Then you move into the ‘realm of the sacrificial’ and give sacrificially, praise sacrificially and serve sacrificially AND YET STILL, the desire remains unfulfilled and that prayer remains unanswered (or so it seems). It is at such times that our hope seems deferred- postponed to an unknown date; until we even begin to feel like that desire would never come.
Should we then give up when hope seems lost? Of course not! Once we lose hope, then and only then do we ensure that our desire would never become a testimony. Rather, instead of losing hope when our hope seems deferred indefinitely, these are a few things that we should do to keep hope alive and faith burning:
- GIVE THANKS: 1 Thess 5:18 (NIV) “Give thanks IN ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Giving thanks in all circumstances means to give God thanks in ‘every and any’ circumstance. You do not give God thanks BECAUSE of the circumstance but INSPITE of it. Also, giving God thanks for the things He has done for you in the past as well as for the many other things He’s doing for you in the present-even in the midst of delayed expectations, helps to keep our focus on God’s almighty power thereby boosting our faith.
- STAY IN THE WORD: When our expectations seem delayed, another important thing we must do to keep from losing hope is to feed on God’s word through regular study and meditation. Since faith comes through God’s Word (Romans 10:17), giving attention to His Word and especially to those verses of scripture that tell us His promises concerning our particular desire, would remind us of God’s ability and willingness to meet us at that point of our need.
- RELEASE FAITH BY CONFESSING THE WORD: Jesus Himself said “….IF YOU HAVE FAITH like a mustard sees YOU WILL SAY unto this mountain….” Faith in the heart is released through your words so be sure to speak God’s word over that situation. Remember, “death and life are in the power of the tongue and them that indulge it will eat its fruit (whether for death of life) [Proverbs 18:21]. Therefore, speak and keep on speaking God’s revealed word over that expectation and watch God’s power bring your expectations swiftly.
- KEEP PRAYING: Had Daniel quit praying, he wouldn’t have received the answer to his prayer though God had sent it the very moment he had asked (Daniel 9: 21-23). Certain unseen forces had hindered Daniels answers but by Daniel’s persistence in the place of prayer, God’s angelic forces were able to overcome. The same thing holds true for us, certain times when our expectation seems delayed, our fervent and continued prayers are the key to ensuring that we receive our testimony. Do not quit. If you feel faint then call on a friend or prayer partner and press on together. But by all means persist in prayer.
- OBEY THE PROMPTINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: As we pray and study God’s word, we may feel prompted by God’s spirit to take various steps in faith. It is only when we obey such promptings that we prove our faith through our actions thereby moving God to fulfill His promises to us. (James 2:17).
- REJOICE IN ANTICIPATION: What better way is there to prove you are expectant than to rejoice in anticipation. Sing and make merry. Rejoice and celebrate the fulfilment of that expectation, for it is only with Joy we can gain access to the riches of God’s grace (Isaiah 12:3).