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people of praise

Even in times of trouble, God works on our behalf


“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

Hope can be a powerful ally. It gives us strength in times of trial and helps us to believe for a better tomorrow. Hebrews 11 says that, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Hope and faith are qualities that act like a spiritual muscle that give us strength to keep moving through adversity until negative circumstances turn around.

However, at times it seems that the things we so desperately hope for don’t come to pass. We patiently wait, and still, nothing. When this happens, as the verse says, it causes a sick feeling in our heart and can leave us feeling emotionally crippled. We begin to wonder if the things we so greatly desire will ever come to pass. Have you felt like this before? When we find ourselves in these times of trial and we pray and persevere when we don’t feel like it, continue to hope, and still nothing happens, what should we do?

The first thing we must remember is found in Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way.” No matter if you are in a time of triumph or trial, the very spot you are in right now is not a surprise to God. You are in this situation because God has ordered all of your days and is fully aware of the struggles you are facing.

The second thing we must realize when our hope seems to be deferred is that God is developing character in us so that we may be stronger, more complete people. James 1:2-4 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

When our hope is deferred and we are in the middle of a trial we must take time to have an honest look at ourselves and see what changes we need to make to be everything God created us to be. This isn’t easy and can be painful, but it is always for our own good.

We must also remember that God’s timing doesn’t always line up with ours. Waiting on God to move can be extremely difficult. I’m sure there have been times when you echoed David’s words from Psalm 13:1 when he said, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” The truth is God hasn’t forgotten you. He is always at work on your behalf, doing things that you may never know about or see. When it comes to God’s timing, Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us that, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Oftentimes, when we try to solve our problems apart from wisdom that comes from God, we end up creating more of them. We rush and try to run ahead of God’s schedule, doing anything and everything in our power to try to cure our sick heart and the longing that we so greatly want to be fulfilled. I’m sure we can all look back at difficult circumstances we came through successfully and see in hindsight that the situation did turn around and everything worked out in just the right time.

Again, Proverbs 13:12 states that, “A longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” God has no interest in making our hearts sick. In fact, one of the reasons Jesus came to earth was so that we would have a rich, full, abundant life (see John 10:10). When we don’t see our hopes and desires coming to pass, rather than giving up, we should take the advice given to us in 1 Peter 5:7 and, “Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you.”

God loves us and cares about us more than we could ever imagine. He wants to give us an abundant life to enjoy and a testimony that says, “Look what my God did for me!” The Bible tells us in Romans 5:5 that, “Hope does not disappoint.” The answers we search for may not come in the timing or methods we think or expect them to, but when they do come, it will demonstrate once again that God loves us, is in control and is adding to the richness of our lives.

Sean Hartzell is associate pastor at New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email Include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.