Hope deferred make the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Have you ever had a hope or dream that didn’t turn out the way you had hoped?
Me too. So. Many. Times.
During those times, I have been discouraged and to be honest, I had a bad attitude when those things didn’t turn out. I went into bitterness, anger and disbelief that was directed at God and I even began to question whether His Word was even true.
Yikes! That is not a good place to be in my friends.
It can be devastating and rock your world and your faith when things don’t go as planned, but it also has the potential to be an amazing learning and growing experience.
Regardless of how things turn out, regardless of our circumstances, God is still good and true to His Word. The problem is never with Him.
There was a summer when our fridge died. We were not prepared financially for a situation like that…yes, I know how important it is to have an emergency fund, but when things are tight, paying living expenses and buying groceries are our priority.
When it died, I threw all that I could into the deep freeze and into a massive cooler and I was believing God for a nice, big, family size fridge.
Ok, I know it may sound silly, but I’m sure some of my momma friends can relate to the desire for a family size fridge.
We had $200 to put towards a fridge and we needed a fridge ASAP.
Graeme started looking for a second-hand fridge that was within our $200 budget. I on the other hand was drooling over a brand new fridge in the newspaper.
Isn’t it funny the things we drool over once we have a family? When I was single, I was not thinking about vacuums, mini-vans, appliances or diaper bags!!
Anyhow, Graeme went and picked up a fridge. A small, ugly, old fridge. But it worked.
My attitude was less then gracious. I was angry, discouraged and confused.
I was believing what God’s word said: “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, trust that you are receiving it, and it will be yours”. (Mark 11:24)
As silly and juvenile as it sounds that I was so upset over not getting the fridge I wanted, this was not the first time my hopes had been deferred. I felt like “well there it is, God has failed me again!”
I’m embarrassed to admit my attitude, but I started seeing a pattern in these situations. The pattern I was seeing was the condition of my heart.
God is in the heart business. His desire is for us to learn and grow in our character and our relationship with Him. It’s hard to grow and know what you’re made of when life has no challenges and everything goes your way all the time.
In children that can produce a spoiled child and for an adult, the outcome is the same.
I don’t know about you, but I want to grow in character, even when it’s hard.
The pattern I was starting to see was that when I was believing, praying and hoping for something that didn’t come to fruition, I would question God’s promises and feel sorry for myself. I was miserable and my poor family knew it.
The whole fridge thing was really quite silly, but there were other times that my disappointments weren’t so silly.
Like my miscarriage between our third and fourth. Or the extreme pregnancy related sickness that followed for months even after I had miscarried.
Another time was with the onset of my labour…or lack of, with all of my labours, but specifically with our youngest. I won’t go into all the details and what matters most is that I had healthy baby girl and amazing labour and delivery.
With all of my pregnancies, my body would labour for weeks in advance, but at such a slow rate that the doctors would have to induce me with a ton of Pitocin/Oxytocin to get things moving.
I was determined that I would not go that route with our fourth, but would allow my body to kick in naturally.
I waited and waited.
5 days overdue and I was starting to get worried as my babies have all been 10 lbs+…except for my first who was 5 weeks early. Number 2 and 3 were 2 weeks early and 10+, so I was concerned. I felt amazing with this pregnancy and my belly was smaller than my others, plus I was staying very active and watching what I was eating.
5 days past due, I called the doctor to say I was ready to go through with the induction. You guys, I was on my face bawling and crying out to God to have this baby come forth without any induction, but it didn’t happen.
I was discouraged, disappointed and heartbroken, again. I was angry at God for years, but I didn’t realize how much it had affected me, until I was talking about it one day with my mom. During our conversation, not only was I a complete emotional wreck, but I was angry. So, so angry and bitter. Why? Why did things not go as I had hoped and prayed for? I was questioning His sovereignty and what I believed.
Eventually I started to see this pattern that kept occurring in my life and that was my attitude and disbelief. Instead of being thankful for what God had done or did provide, I was focusing on the negative.
At the suggestion of my mom I took some time to take my hurts, disappointments and fears to the Lord. I made sure I was alone in the house because I knew there were going to be some big, ugly tears and lots of sobbing. I asked the Lord to forgive me for my attitude and disbelief because my attitude was wrong, but I also asked Him to heal my heart.
I also asked why?
These are a few things I came away with:
1-That regardless of circumstances, regardless of how we feel, He is God and He is there even in the midst of whatever hurts and disappointments we are going through. We can’t even begin to fathom all that He has in store for us and what will be along the way in our journey.
2-There will be hurts and disappointments in our lives, but the big question is what is our response? Are we running to Him or running away?
3-I know that God IS able to do all the things that we ask and pray for. I also know that when He doesn't, it doesn't change who He is.
4- During these times, I have also been able to learn empathy. There are many situations that I look at differently now or I can relate to other people, because let’s be honest, nobody's life and circumstances always turn out exactly the way they want. There are disappointments, hurts, loss and unexpected outcomes, but we can encourage each other to keep pressing on and to adjust our attitude to glorify the Lord.
5-Yes, hope deferred can make a heart sick, but we have the choice in that matter.
I have had many more disappointments, hopes deferred and unanswered prayers along the way, but these days I am noticing my attitude and changing gears much more quickly.
I don’t want my heart to be sick and miserable.
Nothing can change your attitude more quickly than a grateful heart and believing that regardless of how things turn out, God is in control and He does have our best at heart. For a hope and a future.
In the midst of hurts, disappointments and hope deferred, run to Him, hold His promises close and allow Him to minster to your heart.