When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed, but a wish come true fills you with joy.
~Proverbs 13:12 (GNT)
Have you ever gotten your hopes up about something that you thought was so perfect for you, totally in alignment with your dreams, or seemed just the right fit for the talents God has given you...only to have your hopes mortally dashed right before your very eyes?
Oh, the painful disappointment and heart-breaking hurt of a wish unfulfilled; a lifelong dream left for dead. Dashed hopes can literally make your heart sick. My preferred translation of the Bible puts our key verse this way:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
~Proverbs 13:12 (NIV 1984)
At the beginning of this post, I shared the Good News Translation of this verse because it so accurately describes how I feel when a hope or dream doesn't come true when or how I want it to, if at all. It feels like, just as my hopes are crushed, so is my heart.
I've personally experienced this heart-sickening disappointment way too many times already in my life. I think my problem is that I get my hopes up too easily. Especially when an opportunity comes along that really seems like something God would want for my life. I mean, come on, it would be so awesome! A perfect fit for me. Such a wonderful blessing! Why wouldn't God allow me this hope fulfilled? I just get so frustrated when an opportunity seems so right, but God doesn't allow it to happen. At least for that specific time in my life, anyway. Can you relate?
Every time I see a perfect opportunity and get my hopes up about it, yet God in His all-knowing wisdom and loving plan for my life doesn't allow it to happen, I struggle with a reaction of huge disappointment and emotional let-down. And let's be honest, probably even a little bitterness. When my dashed hopes are at their worst, I might cry out to God (imagine a whiny voice), "But why not, Lord?! Why couldn't You let me have this blessing right now?” Or “Why aren't You allowing me to use the gifts and talents You've given me for this awesome opportunity? You know I can do it! And I know I can do it...with You helping me, of course. So why not?!?" Some pouting and pity-partying might ensue. What a spoiled brat I can be sometimes.
Yet at the same time my heart feels sick about a "lost" opportunity, deep down I know why God doesn't fulfill each and every one of my hopes and dreams. Can you guess why? Because He knows that not all of our wants and wishes are best for us. And even if He does have some of these fulfilled dreams planned for our future, His timing in our lives is always perfect and totally for our good. When we come to Him with a hope or dream, sometimes His answer is "No, not that. I have something different and much better in mind for you." Other times His answer might be "Not now. Just be patient; wait for Me. Put your hope in Me."
So here are a couple things to keep in mind when you start to get your hopes up about something (and if you’re like me you don’t even “start” the getting-your-hopes-up process, you just go all out with full-fledged 100% hope!):
1. Something you may hope for may not be at all good for you, so don't be surprised when God never allows it to happen. He has a life planned out for you that is perfectly designed just for you and what He knows is best for you. He is your Creator after all. He knows exactly what you need and what you really don't need. His plan is always much better than what you may have “planned” for yourself, as the following promises of Scripture attest:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. ~Proverbs 19:21
2. God's timing for your life is always for your best. Even if His timing may sometimes frustrate you when you think you deserve something now rather than later, remember that He always, always, always has your best in mind.
In this case, God wants you to patiently wait for Him. Wait for Him to act. Wait for Him to open the door of opportunity to you. And while you wait, He wants you to trust Him and His plan for your life and put your hope in Him. Not in your own self-centered desires and wishes. As part of His loving plan for your life, He has some maturing, learning, and faith-growing for you to do in the meantime. This growing we do is the hidden blessing that takes place during our times of waiting for God.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:14
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! ~Isaiah 30:18
Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” ~Isaiah 49:23b
I don’t know about you, but nothing feels more joyful than when a wish finally does come true, just like our key verse states. Then all the waiting and wondering, praying and patience was totally worth it and makes it seem even better than we'd dreamed! So go ahead and give your hopes and dreams to God. But remember to have an attitude of submission to His will for your life because He just might have something way better in store for you!
Here are more encouraging promises from Scripture about hope and waiting for God’s timing:
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. ~Psalm 130:5
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. ~Psalm 42:11
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:31
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ~Roman 12:12
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13