I talk to a lot of people who would describe themselves as being in a time of “waiting”. It can be a hard season, where you struggle to accept the longings of your heart and it’s too easy to fall into comparison and disappointment. Some people are waiting for their bodies to be healed, some are waiting to meet their spouse, some are waiting to be free from the label ‘infertile’, some are waiting for family drama to subside, while some are waiting for their finances to increase. The list is endless but the frustration in that time is real.
This season is not unfamiliar territory for me. I didn’t get married until I was 32 (and I wanted to marry from the moment I was born!!). After that, my husband and I walked through two years of recurrent miscarriages. And on top of that, my husband’s career experienced many bumps in the road! No matter what I was “waiting” for, whether marriage, children, or financial stability, people would try and encourage me to not give up on God. I was confused, disheartened, and sometimes angry. And a common piece of advice I’d receive was, “God will give you what you want when you’re not looking for it”. These people were well meaning, but instead of feeling encouraged or empowered, I felt like their words punished me for having dreams and heart’s desires.
I understand that for some, their heart’s desires become an obsession. But a big indicator of the health of dreams is how they are affecting our behavior. Are you stabbing coworkers in the back to climb the corporate ladder? Are you embezzling money to build your business? Are you abandoning your own beliefs in order to find or keep a date? If the answers to these questions are ‘no’, then you can be confident that you are not dominated by your heart’s desires. Your prayers, your wants are not destroying you – in fact they may have been given to you by God so that He can lead you in the path that He has for you! Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV). This is incredibly practical advice! He’s saying that as long as you are putting God first (His values, His love for you, His love for others), everything will be given to you. Heck, HE WANTS TO GIVE IT TO YOU!
In the book of Proverbs, it is written, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, NKJV). Hmmm…. That’s interesting. It doesn’t say, “Stop desiring, stop hoping, stop longing, because only then can you be given what you want.” No! The Bible actually acknowledges that delayed hope, delayed dreams make your heart suffer. BUT WHEN IT COMES, IT WILL BE A TREE OF LIFE.
My husband loves trees. He always notices them wherever we go. Whilst I am glued to the GPS on my iPhone, he’s taking in the clouds in the sky and the trees that surround us. He often tells me that trees are a firm part of our landscape. Trees don’t just come and go like little plants, they grow over years and decades, and remain for centuries. And trees don’t need much care. They soak up the sun, absorb the rain, and do what they do during all four seasons. And they are a shelter. You can hide under a tree and find shade. I should probably pay more attention because my husband’s right - trees are awesome!
And we rarely consider how long it takes to grow a tree. They slowly grow roots into the earth and with equal speed, grow upwards. It takes decades for a tree to be established. And the answers to our prayers can often come at the same pace.
But despite their tarried arrival, when our heart’s desires arrive, the things we have longed for, they will be a longstanding shelter and shade in our lives. They won’t be high-maintenance areas of our lives that constantly need tending. Our heart’s desires will be a place of rest, a place of peace. They will be a tree of life!
So don’t fight your dreams. Stop feeling guilty that you want marriage, children, a career, family reconciliation, or financial gain. These are all good things. Just seek God first and let everything else be added, because when they come, they will be a tree of life.