Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
This week my heart has been preoccupied with all those who do not have a relationship with our Lord Jesus. How do we reach those who do not have knowledge of Him or even have the desire to know Him? This simple Proverb that I've chosen, along with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, speak volumes about the key to our evangelism efforts.
First of all, "hope deferred" in the proverb refers to hope that one yields to or surrenders to. In other words it is the false hopes that this world tells us will fill our hearts with happiness. Whether it is the wealth of the Young Rich Ruler in the Bible, or the fame and popularity of today's celebrities, or the desire to be a wife and mother that claims the space in your heart --- people hope in different things to fulfill them. But as the proverb says, these hopes that we embrace and yield to, cannot be the source of our happiness or fulfillment. They will only make our hearts sick.
It is "the desire" to have that heart-changing relationship with Jesus; to empty your heart of all the false hopes and let the Holy Spirit plant the seed of real hope that will result in true happiness, peace and contentment. This planted seed will grow into a tree that gives lasting hope and life.
None found that to be more true than the Samaritan woman at the well. As she talks with our Lord, her words reveal that she has placed her false hope of happiness in finding the perfect relationship with a man. Indeed, she has had five husbands and is currently living with a man, most likely in the hopes that number six will be her magic number. Her heart's desire was to find a husband that would fill her empty soul.
But Jesus emptied her heart of all her false hopes. She was confused, thinking that her manner of worship would help her attain her heart's desire. But Jesus told her that it didn't matter if she worshipped on the mountain or the temple in Jerusalem. The real issue was her heart ... He told her that God was looking for "true worshippers"; that God wanted to do such a work in people's hearts that they would be changed forever. He must have seen her desire to genuinely change, for He told her that He was the Messiah they were waiting for.
As the proverb states, "when her desire came", it was so great that her heart leaped at the opportunity to embrace Jesus. The "living water" that he promised washed away the desire of her false hopes and cleansed her heart to receive the seed of faith that would grow into a tree of life. She no longer thirsted after the false hopes, and her sick heart was renewed by the promises of her relationship with the Source of true happiness.
How many of our friends, family and acquaintances are living with sick hearts? How healthy are our own hearts? We must examine ourselves to see where the desire of our heart truly lies. We must remember that God empties before He fills. Please, Father, empty my heart of my selfish wants and fill me with Your desires!