“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Scripture. A lot of us feel sick with unmet hopes and unanswered prayers right now.
I know people who are waiting on jobs, babies, marriage, healing, and restoration of relationships, among other things. The needs are as unique as the people and their circumstances.
I’m in my own race right now, and yesterday I wrote some thoughts to put words to what it feels like. Maybe you can relate.
You’ve been running a race for a long time, one foot in front of the other, believing God will eventually say yes.
As your feet pound the pavement, mile after mile, you can’t help the tears that blur your vision. Those tears are the sweat that comes from running through a desert with unanswered prayers as far as the eye can see.
In this grueling race, hope feels like your best friend and your worst enemy. It gives you the strength to move forward, push yourself harder, conquer the hilltop ahead of you, and believe that maybe, just maybe, this is finally the end.
Around the bend is another long path stretching for miles and miles at an incline. You sweat tears.
Quitting isn’t an option though. You’re stuck with this race, and you can collapse by the side of the road if you want, but you’ll just have to get up again and keep moving. Besides, collapsing means you’ll lose time on your way to the finish line — but what if there isn’t a finish line? It’s an unbearable thought that you push away, and out of habit, you press on.
One. Two. One. Two. One. Two.
One. Two. One. Two.
You bend over, put your hands on your knees, and dry heave as the noonday sun bears down on your head.
You wipe the sweat from your eyes, stare at the road for a while, then look up, and keep going.
Some days you sprint; some days you crawl — it doesn’t seem to matter either way. Pacing yourself to get to a finish line seems pointless when that finish line might never come.
Sometimes encouraging people come alongside you and provide the words or the silent presence you need. But most of the time you find yourself going it alone — people are running their own races, sweating their own tears.
You have to run with somebody to stay motivated, against all the increasing odds. But whether you realize it or not, you actually are running with Someone. That Someone is not running beside you though. He is running in you.
The shin splints, aching muscles, headaches, sunburn, thirst, exhaustion, and desperation — they are His as much as they are yours. There is no separation between the two of you. You suck in air, He breathes it out. You put the water to your lips, He swallows it. You sweat tears, He wipes them away.
He is the reason you keep going. He is the one who strengthens your bones. He is the one who pushes you forward and somehow makes the endless desert road bearable. He is the one who promises the race will end — that one day it really will end, and it will end in His arms.