“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12, NLT
Have you ever been so disappointed by life that you have felt physically ill? Have you ever felt so let down, so disgusted by the cards that life has dealt you that you felt like giving up and throwing in the towel? Maybe you worked hard to make a relationship work and it fell apart. Maybe you gave hours of your time, energy, passion, and devotion to a job or a business or a ministry, and now you find yourself unemployed. You gave, poured out, invested, and committed yourself and all your resources to building something, and it just didn’t turn out the way you expected. The way you had hoped.
I have felt this way. I woke up one day feeling so disappointed by life. Things just hadn’t turned out the way they were supposed to. My life didn’t look AT ALL like I hoped it would. I suspect that I am not alone. At some point, we have all found ourselves here. If you have a pulse, then you can probably relate to this. Every single one of us has put our hope in something. We are designed to hope. We are hardwired to put our hope in something. Then we work so hard to make things happen. And sometimes, for various reasons, they just don’t happen.
I love that the Bible even addresses this. I used to read the scripture above from Proverbs and feel afraid. I would read it with the emphasis on the sick heart. Yuck. Who wants that? So I would do everything in my measly, little power to make sure my dreams would be fulfilled! Problem solved! Sick heart avoided and averted! I worked extra hard tried to make things happen on my own. Chasing people. Chasing things. Grasping. Keep working. Keep myself busy and pretend everything was fine, and I was happy. But then I woke up one day, and I wasn’t happy. I had to get honest with myself, and realize that, all along, I had been chasing the wrong things; that I was putting my hope in all the wrong things.
A number in a checking account.
The accomplishment of a certain dream.
The right sized blue jeans or a number on a scale.
The acceptance from the “right” people.
The right amount of likes.
The proper number of followers.
The unconditional love I always longed for.
All of these desires are good. Every single one. It is good to be loved, healthy, and have all our needs met, indeed. And we are not wrong for having them. But while these desires are good, they make terrible gods. Sometimes our desires get lopsided and they consume us, becoming the sole focus of all our time and attention, and our hearts become blackened and bitter when the things we desire most are just out of reach. This is natural and it happens to all of us. But it certainly isn’t healthy.
We crave. We desire. We need. We long. And we are not wrong for it. When I put my hope in achieving my dreams, rather than the Giver of dreams, I am chasing after the wind. It’s like grasping at dust. I am setting myself up for disappointment. Nothing in this world is certain, and even our very desires can change. That can either cause a great deal of anxiety or drive us to seek that which is truly secure. I wrote previously about God’s steadfastness in a world that is constantly changing.
It was never God’s will to create us with so many needs, to then leave us on our own, as we go through life being tortured with our dreams and desires constantly out of reach. As I learn to depend more on my Heavenly Father, delighting myself in Him, His purpose, His timing, and His sovereign plan, I realize that He absolutely wants to give me the desires of my heart. I used to feel selfish for wanting so much, for being so needy. But it is how we are designed by our Creator. And He is truly big enough, not only to handle our neediness, but also to satisfy.
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalms 37:4, NLT