Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: …
— Proverbs 13:12a
For the purpose of this discussion, it is to be acknowledged that what I am about to talk about centers around those things that are nearest and dearest to the heart. They are not the casual options in life; they are the desires, dreams, and goals, that shape one’s life; the things one cannot simply live without; life itself. It is expressly those very same things that affect our mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual state if we allow it to, either good…or ill. Tragically, it is also found to be the conclusion of many lives when handled improperly.
Hope is a wonderful thing to have. It defies most human comprehension and as such, is often misunderstood. By what authority does one have to hope in one thing or another? Upon what evidence is that which is hoped for to be guaranteed to take place? Most importantly, when will it actually happen?
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves grown within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
— Romans 8:22-23
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
— 2 Peter 3:3-4
Maybe it’s a loved one who is terminally ill whom you’re praying for a miraculous healing. Maybe it’s a wayward child whom you haven’t talked to in years and you’ve been praying for what seems like an eternity for them to come back. Maybe it’s yourself with a new health condition that is suddenly threatening to alter the course of your life, if not already. Maybe it’s that long overdue financial relief you’ve been waiting for. Maybe it’s deliverance from an egregious injustice. Or maybe it’s a very special someone whom you feel life could never be complete without, and by all appearances, it seems like it’s never going to work out.
I’m not of the foolish brand of Christianity (or secular humanism for that matter) to misuse the Bible or positive thinking philosophy in forging canned lies that “it will all work out in the end” or “it will all be okay” where no guarantee has actually been given in any of these areas. However, I do acknowledge that these are nonetheless deeply personal areas in our lives that affect us the most and when their miracles don’t happen the way we mourn and pour out our hearts to God over, what is left to do?
Despair is a common option most people take. Lashing out at God in anger too. Throwing things; profanities; weeping; and also total societal shutdown (i.e. blocking everything and everyone out). We are now hurting so severely, it even becomes difficult to breathe in our now traumatized state with our heart in our hands.
And there, as I sat on my door step, I looked up with tears in my eyes beginning to form, to see the very same stars I hadn’t seen in weeks (they were all still there), through which I talked to God, sharing with Him my whole heart, even picking out a star or two to hang my hopes and dreams on as reminders of what could be if God allowed it. How oft had I taken comfort in the stars that watched over me each night! How oft had I felt peace as I kneeled to worship my Saviour late into the evening! Only this night, it was with embarrassment and great despair as I considered the other possible—and by now, likely—answer to my long-standing prayer, “No.”
I became acutely aware of my humanity and brokenness and could see the pain coming with a multitude of memories following closely behind as it was want to do in times past. In my weakness and impending suffering which I feared, I lifted my eyes to God once more to offer this desperate prayer for help:
Please hear me now. I cannot handle this. I cannot handle this hurt. This is too much for me.
Please, take my broken heart into your hands. Take my broken life and hold it for me. And please, help me.
Turning back in for the night, I was only able to leave my cares outside when I surrendered to this thought, “God has to take this one for me, because I cannot even give it; I cannot even do it.” I would continue to hurt for a little while longer, but now it was only by choice. There was a noticeable disconnect in my heart that distanced itself from the unbearable pain I expected to be feeling in that moment. And while I can look out my window to hear the clashing of swords and shields in my mind, it is one battle I no longer had to fight in, let alone give in to. Continuing to ponder these things, my heart was warmed by an illustrative thought, “that’s my God out there, fighting in that battle for me! that’s my God! that’s my God! He’s doing that for me!”
That’s my God; in whom I trust, and in whom I find my healing when the miracle I’ve prayed so long for doesn’t come to pass.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:15-16