My heart leapt the first time I heard this scripture: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life”(Proverbs 13:12). Somehow it gave me permission to acknowledge what was there anyhow. Yes, when dreams don’t come true, the heart feels sick. The verse told me God understands how we feel.
We all know that when we have the flu or any disease, we have symptoms. What are the symptoms of a sick heart? One symptom is the desire to curl into a spiritual ball and isolate ourselves. Another is disappointment. Another is grief.
That’s all fine; it is natural to feel those things but it’s important to make sure a cold does not turn into pneumonia so to speak. In every illness, a turning point is reached: we either start to get better or worse. Disappointment can give way to bitterness; grief can become despair.
What medicine can start us on the mend? A small book of the Bible with only three chapters offers a prescription that has always helped me. Habakkuk knew what “hope deferred” was all about. He decided that even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom and there is no fruit on the vines or the olive tree fails to produce or there are no cattle in the stalls; “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18).
Has hope been deferred for you? Is your heart sick? Exult in the Lord; rejoice in the God of your salvation. Take your medicine every day. This will be a difficult pill to swallow at first, I admit, but it will set you on a path of healing. Another benefit: with this prescription, you get unlimited refills.