Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Has this verse ever been a reality in your life? Today, I’d like to share where my mind wanders each time I hear this verse. It has been almost fourteen years but all those feelings can rise right to the surface once more just thinking about that time.
It was March of 1999; our daughter was just getting ready to graduate from college and was beginning to interview for a local teaching job for the fall. Our son was preparing to graduate from high school and all his college acceptance letters were coming in and we had just learned that we’d be moving somewhere south due to John’s job. It was a good time, we thought, for we were all going to be transitioning to new chapters in our lives that year.
To keep this story from growing too long, I’ll jump ahead a bit to January 2000. Our daughter was working at a local high school close to our home town in New Hampshire. Our son ended up in college in upstate New York, hundreds of miles away and we were even further away in Tennessee trying hard to meet and make new friends. We’d all been together for a week during the holidays but the realization that it would be a whole year before we were all together again sent me plummeting down into a depression. My family had always been my life! My world revolved around them, and we had always been super, super close to one another. The reality of not being able to be all together again for a whole year was just too much for me to bear.
It was a scary time for me and I can relate to the Psalmist who cried, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5
My brain knew better, but my soul continued to be downcast and it seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake the depression. (The key word here is “I”). Finally, one day while I was praying, I confessed, “I just can’t keep going.”
The Lord taught me several things at that moment.
For years, as long as I had been praying for “my” children, the Holy Spirit would ask, “Whose children?” and I’d reply, “Mine!” I knew ultimately they were His, but I also knew deep in my heart that I couldn’t give them back to Him. So, to avoid the Holy Spirit asking over the years, I would pray for them by name and avoid calling them “mine”. Looking back at those moments, I realize that He was only trying to protect my heart from the pain I was experiencing at that moment. If I had given them back to God years ago, I wouldn’t have been where I was that day.
My children were an idol that I was not willing to relinquish. I believe this could have also been the case with Sarah but rather it was her lack of children or heir. Even Abraham, when God told him in Genesis 15:1-5 how He was going to bless him, couldn’t truly embrace all God was promising as he had no heir (v.2-3). God tells us we are to have no idols before Him (Exodus 20:3) and it was then I could see that this command is truly for our benefit.
He also showed me that I was attempting to do everything in my own strength, pretty much how I had lived up until then. I had accepted Christ Jesus as Savior, but not Lord. I was still lord of my life. Even though I was trying to live to please Him, I was still in charge, and hasn’t this also been played out for us over and over again in the lives of Sarah and Abraham? Just think about the time “they” decided to go to Egypt and when “they” thought it best to lie about Sarah being Abraham’s sister to Pharaoh and again later to Abimelech.
Here again with Hagar. I know a little of how Sarah’s heart must have ached. She should have had great-grandchildren running around and still she wasn’t able to produce an heir. I can see her giving Hagar to Abraham in hopes of curing her heart-ache. At least, if he had an heir, a portion of her pain might subside, she hoped, and perhaps she could bear the rest. During those days in Tennessee, if I could have found a way to ease my longing for my family to be together again, I’m sure I would have taken it. But when the flesh takes over, we end up with Ishmael instead of Isaac – something that falls short of the glory of God and don’t we all really want His very best?!
The Lord gave me two verses to hang onto that day:
The first is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.”
The second is Philippians 2:13, “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” (AMP)
Just as He repeatedly promised Abraham and Sarah that He would fulfill their desires, He was now promising me. He would do it! It’s a matter of trust or better yet, faith at taking Him at His word. After all,” Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Gen. 18:14a
I got up that day wholly surrendered, completely trusting and the depression lifted. That August our son switched colleges and moved to Tennessee. He soon met his future bride and they now live about 40 minutes from us. And in 2001, our daughter, along with her husband and our brand new granddaughter, moved less than ten minutes down the street from us. The day they hit Tennessee soil, and we were all together again I marked Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of LIFE!” in my Bible.
* You may have noticed as you read, “What to Do While We Wait!” that God did not answer right away. In fact it was three years before our daughter moved to Tennessee and just like Abraham, I got up and got busy serving and walking in obedience while I was trusting Him. I wrote about the amazing experience we went through during that time in a series I called; Reaching Out and Developing a Community Around You. I hope you’ll check it out to see the goodness of God and all He did while we were waiting!
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God bless you,
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