“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (ESV)
Have you ever struggled because you know God can do anything, but you can’t understand why He doesn’t seem to be intervening in your situation right now?
You’re trying to hang on to hope, but the more time passes without any apparent change, the harder it is.
In Proverbs 13:12, we’re told, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” The word “deferred” in this verse refers to a hopeless situation that feels long and drawn out. It’s the seemingly unending and disappointing kind of season that can leave us tempted to look at our lives and question, Why is God withholding this from me? Since He’s not intervening, I’ll just try to fix it myself in my way.
This dangerous assumption is reminiscent of when Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were free to eat from any other tree in the garden. But Eve listened to the enemy. She got alone with her own thoughts and assumptions. And it led her to doubt her Father. Instead of heeding His instruction, (Proverbs 13:1) she took control to get what she wanted. What she thought was best. (Genesis 3)
And as soon as she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit …
Consequences were unleashed.
And they were banished from the garden.
If only Eve would have noticed the other tree in the garden with her. The tree of life. The tree of God’s best way and perfect provision. It was there for her. She had a choice.
And so do we.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil may not be in our physical sight today, but Satan is certainly making use of that same sense of disappointment, of our hope deferred. He wants us to be so consumed with our unmet expectations that our hearts just get more and more self-reliant and sick of waiting on God.
But God wants us to look to the tree of life.
Charles Spurgeon once preached, “My dear friends, you will never see the tree of life aright unless you first look at the cross … Thus then, Jesus Christ hanging on the cross is the tree of life in its wintertime.”
In the darkest hour this world has ever known, Jesus died on a cross, or “on a tree,” as Galatians 3:13 puts it in most English Bible translations. But just as we know that trees in the wintertime only appear to be dead, so there was a redemptive transformation at work as Jesus hung on the cross.
Your life may be dark and confusing today. But make no mistake — there is a powerful work happening. And Jesus wants us to hear Him saying, “Eve turned to the wrong tree and received death. I hung on a tree to bring you back to life. I am the fulfillment of your every longing. I am your Tree of Life. Look to Me.”
Let’s make a different choice than Eve did. Turn from the deep desire to know all of the reasons and to control all of the outcomes. That knowledge would be a burden, and attempting to control it all will do nothing but entangle you with anxiety and fear.
That’s why God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge it would give them was a burden God never wanted them to carry. And maybe that’s why we don’t have all the answers to our “why” questions. God isn’t trying to be distant or mysterious or hard to understand. He’s being merciful.
We don’t have to know the plan to trust there is a plan. We don’t have to feel good to trust there is good coming. We don’t have to see evidence of change to trust that it won’t always be this hard.
We just have to close our physical eyes and turn our thoughts to Jesus. Fix our thoughts on Him. Say His Name over and over and over. And know that we can trust our Father’s heart and His plans.
Father God, You keep showing me that I don’t need answers. I need Jesus. Help me stop the madness of my own assumptions of how things must turn out. My soul was made for assurance. And that is exactly what You have given me. The divine assurance of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Galatians 3:13, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” (NLT)
What are some practical ways you fix your eyes on Jesus in your own life? When do you find it hardest to focus on Him? Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.