Recovering Hope

Who’s holding your hope back?

“Hope delayed makes the heart sick, but when the heart’s desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

I love this verse, but it took me a long time to understand why hope gets postponed, probably because I unconsciously believed God was disciplining me, or teaching me a lesson on the way to hope. Or it was the enemy, who was blocking hope until I performed well enough to beat him. But then I realized: it’s me. I delay God’s hope, joy, peace, and love with my thoughts and words.

Do any of these sound familiar:

I’ll be happy when . . .

I’ll be okay as long as that person . . .

My life will be good if God will . . .

I’m the one postponing hope. Instead of growing in anticipation of God’s unending goodness toward me, I’m delaying it until my expectations of better circumstances are met. I’m thinking more about what could go wrong than what God is saying is possible.

How often do you say:

I’m so stupid.

I’m a failure.

I’m overwhelmed.

I will never be good enough.

The feelings are real, but they aren’t true. By putting them in front of your mind, it’s like wearing a mask, hiding your true identity. You filter out what God is saying and keep your heart “sick,” a word in that verse that means to be weakened and broken.

When you agree with a lie, or fear, you think and act as the enemy’s prisoner, instead of as God’s child. But you are absolutely his beloved child, and welcome to live in the incredible inheritance he has for you. He is hope itself; when you agree with and live in what he’s saying, you’ll thrive in hope, love, joy, and peace, no matter what your circumstances are.

What is God saying to you right now? Who does he want to be for you in this season of your life? Who is he saying you really are? Look for and seize every opportunity to agree with and step into what he says. If you don’t know yet, here’s a start:

“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).

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (Romans 5:3-5).

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