This week, I'm preaching on one of the great passages of the New Testament - Hebrews 11-12.
29 times, the passages tells us that it is 'by faith' that those who have gone before persevered until the very end, often under extremely difficult circumstances.
In my reading, I came across a cross reference in Proverbs 13: 12:
After reflecting on a Proverb last week, I thought, why not continue?
The saying is confronting for anyone enduring hardship. To hope, and then hope some more, only to come up with nothing. It makes the heart sick.
On the other side of the coin though, having a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
The language of this second phrase can't be ignored. It's impossible to think of it without seeing the new creation.
But what do we do in the meantime? Is this life just one disappointment after another - one giant hope deferred?
Ultimately, our hope will not come to fruition until that final day. But we receive mercies from God in our daily lives that remind us that our longings are fulfilled in Christ.
Back to Hebrews 11 and 12, we see most famously that Jesus is not only the pioneer of our faith, but the perfecter of it as well. In John 14, he tells us that he will not leave us alone, but give us another Counsellor - the Holy Spirit. He will remind us of what is true. He didn't just give us faith. He will sustain our faith as well.
Before writing off this life as one big hope deferred, dwell on those reminders God has graced you with of fulfilled longings in Christ. They may not be the ultimate and eternal reality, but they will spur you on as you wait for that day when all our longings will be fulfilled, and that tree of life will be ever present.