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Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Prov. 13:12, ESV)

Delay – it ought to be a four-letter word.  It’s ugly, and not many of us are fond of its smothering presence.

To experience the delay of slow traffic when you’re in a rush is one thing.   Or, to be delayed by the person with 50 items who ignored the “20 Items or fewer” sign is minor compared to other delays.

A person waits for the medical diagnosis for the treatment – waits in hope for the treatment to be successful.  Delays concerning our physical health can impact our emotional health.  When one hopes for healing… and the healing actually comes. Then the desire fulfilled is like a tree whose fruit brings life to our bodies and souls.  Of course, when the delays in our physical healing continue, our emotional stresses deepen.

No matter the hope – whenever hope is delayed we are affected.

My wife and I delayed becoming parents for the first 10-plus years of our marriage.  There were times we wondered if we should start a family.  There were many occasions where I sensed the loss of something I’d not experienced yet – and for which I still felt unprepared.  I shed tears and longed to be a dad – sometimes.

Then, just like that, 14 years had passed, and we were still not parents.  Had we waited too long?  Had our delay resulted in ultimate loss of opportunity?  My heart was sick.

What we didn’t know was that God was already working behind the scenes to answer our delay.  In answering our delay God answered the heart-felt desire of four children to belong.  For us, the answer for “delay” is “adoption”.  No longer is there sickness of heart.  In its place we have discovered delicious, life-giving fruit that sustains us and that has created “home” for all six of us.

Hope continues to be deferred for more than 400,000 kids in the foster system in the United States.  Hope continues to evade the grasp of 10,000-plus kids in our own state system.  Many have a permanency goal of being reunited with biological parents.  Their hopes sometimes are realized – but not without way too many delays.

A child in the care of the state is completely unable to create the solution to make hope become realized.

Does God want you to play a part in fulfilling hope in a child’s life through mentoring, fostering, adoption, or, becoming an advocate for a child in need?  You might just discover that as you offer yourself as a tangible means of fulfilling hope in the life of a child that you become stronger, more fulfilled and exceedingly blessed in the process.  You just might find your own hopes fulfilled as you assist others in their experiences of delay.

Is it possible that the life-giving tree is you?