“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Deferment. Fulfillment. And every step in between.
It is a walk that spans the spectrum of human emotion. From sadness to joy. From sickness to health. From empty to overflow.
It is a walk of hope. A journey of expectant steps toward an anticipated end. An end that yields blossoms. Fruit. Life abundant.
But when the walk requires a longer obedience…a drawn out and prolonged submission…the dreams of blossoms and fruit and abundant living fall prey to disease. Heart sickness. Sinking, sagging sickness that burrows deep within the soul and cries out for understanding.
Why God? Why me? Why not me? Am I not worthy of some dreams? Of blossoms and fruit and life? It seemed like a good hope…a well-intentioned desire. A longing wakened and crafted by your divine will. Why then, am I here Father? Stuck. On hold. Hope diminishing by the minute.
For each one of us who walk the path of hope, it is a familiar grip…this seeming stranglehold of dreams. Our hearts hurt when hope is paused, longing, instead, for our trees to blossom with hope realized. And in between these extremes, God asks us to patiently continue in our trust. To wait on him to move.
When we give ourselves over to a time of sacred waiting, one of two things happens.
Either our hope becomes reality within God’s perfect timing, or our hope becomes reshaped through the loving heart of a Father who has our anticipated “end” in mind. God never removes our hope. But there are times when he requires its surrender to the flames of his refining fire, so that what emerges is a purer hope, more closely in line with his intended purpose for our lives.
Hopes crafted by our Creator never go unrealized.
Two thousands years ago, a walk of hope commenced upon the soil of Judea. A few men, alongside their Teacher, journeyed through the sands of a hard obedience. Their hearts would know the pain of deferment. Many would cry their “whys?” in private. One would cry his “why” from his intended cross.
“‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? … My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34)
Christ understands the language of deferment. He lived it. He knew the language of longing…of hopes put on hold for a season. His longings were and always have been couched within our need. Our need for blossoms and fruit and abundant living. But before his hope would be realized, his hope would be shaped through the flames of his Father’s purifying love.
Hope deferred. Not forgotten. Not diminished. Simply prolonged…long enough for love’s redeeming work to be done.
In the end, longing was fulfilled. Hope was realized. And a Calvary tree blossomed with the fruit of abundant living.
Christ understands the language of fulfillment. He lived it. He IS it! The Tree of all Life.
In the next week, you and I will once again walk the road to Calvary to remember Christ’s walk of surrender—an Easter pilgrimage that we must make, for we are an Easter people. It is a week that embodies the fullness of hope. Hopes deferred and hopes fulfilled. A journey of sadness, sickness, and emptiness. A journey of joy, health, and overflow.
The cross stands as a witness to them both. For within its crude structure, Hope was deferred…crucified, dead and buried in sacred surrender and trust. On the third day, Hope was fulfilled…resurrected and realized. The tree of sacrifice became the tree of Life. And every moment lived between the two was wrought with divine significance and purpose.
I do not know where you are today in your walk of hope. I stand somewhere between the extremes of deferment and fulfillment. There are some dreams in my heart that have simmered for a long season. Stretched out hopes that have required a difficult obedience. But God has not removed them; therefore I am learning the language of surrender, knowing that his fires of refinement will purify them for his sacred purposes.
Perhaps you are walking a similar path. If so, then let us walk it together. Let us journey alongside the One who is well familiar with our sorrows…our heart sickness…our hopes and our dreams. Let us trust him for their fulfillment. Let us rest in the surety of his plan, even though these moments seem unsure…unsteady and uncertain. All of our “whys” are answered with his love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Abundant life. Blossoms and fruit. Hope realized. The only walk worthy of these feet, and so I pray…
Lead me, Father, along your path of hope until one day my hope is realized in your presence. Only then will all the deferment that I have known and all the fruit that I have blossomed make perfect sense. In the temporal, give me a measure of understanding. I cannot fully reason through my seasons of waiting, but I can bear them…even rejoice in them because I know that your refining presence yields hopes and dreams aligned with your will. Thank you, Savior, for your walk of deferment. For your surrender to the fire, and for you astounding love that led you there. You, alone, are worthy my praise. You are the realized Hope of my every longing. Amen.
peace for the journey~elaine