In a moment when my heart dared to believe in the promise of hope, I created a piece of scriptural artwork that hangs above my desk. Some days it ignites my spirit with encouragement and joy. Other days it threatens to extinguish what little remaining hope I cling to.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
At a time when I desperately needed hope and to know that God cared about the deep, unfulfilled longings of my soul, a good friend recited this scripture to me. I was skeptical. Still too broken to risk the further pain of imagining that I could possibly personalize this verse to represent the desires of my heart. But one day I did. As God began to miraculously heal my fractured heart and transform the situation I was in, I began to trust in these words.
That was five years ago. It was easier to have confidence in this promise when my world became brighter than I could have fathomed. When my faith strengthened and my love for God grew exponentially. When every day filled me with wonder and awe at the glory of what God was doing in my life.
I was delighting myself in the Lord. Naturally. Daily. That thing my heart most desired was undergoing a process of redemption and restoration. It was coming. It was near. I held my breath in eager anticipation.
Now some days I wonder. I doubt. I come perilously close to giving up. It concerns me that I have shared this verse to encourage others. That desire of my heart? It is an ache. A sorrow. A source of grief.
Have I not delighted in the Lord enough? With too little passion? For too short a time? Am I doing something wrong? Why is this promise dangled before me but never mine to receive?
Perhaps it is the thing that I desire that is the problem. But if it is, I don’t understand why. It is a good thing. It aligns with God’s will for many people, so I know He approves of this thing. It just doesn’t seem to be in God’s plan for me. And honestly, that makes me sad, resentful, envious, discouraged, confused. You get the idea.
But maybe this thing itself isn’t what my heart truly desires. Maybe this thing just represents, is an embodiment, of what my heart longs for. Maybe this thing has become an idol, and I need to look past it to see what emotional needs I am trying to fill with this thing rather than with God. Maybe if I truly understand what my heart genuinely desires, I will discover that my eyes and thoughts have become blurred by my tears of disappointment and what I think I want isn’t what I really want after all.
Or maybe my eyes are so focussed on this one thing that I fail to understand that there is a bigger picture that God sees that I don’t. Maybe having this thing will hurt or harm me or my relationship with God more than not having it. Maybe he knows that although it is a good thing for some people, it isn’t for me.
I have prayed for God to remove this desire from my heart. To lessen it. To make it not hurt so much. But He hasn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe I need to fully believe, and not just know, that God is faithful in providing for and meeting all my needs.
It’s hard for me to delight myself in anything when discouragement overwhelms me. And yet I press on. I am dejected, but not defeated. I faithfully seek my Saviour’s face, continuing to build our spiritual intimacy even when my feelings attempt to distract me. I hunger and thirst for more of God. For His desires to be the desires of my heart.
I would like to think that brings God delight. And if that brings God delight, perhaps I need to redefine what delighting myself in the Lord really means. Because God, who intimately knows my heart, delights in me. And I find that truth delightful.