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What I Really Need Most

March 8, 2019

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

Have you ever struggled because you know God can do anything but you can’t understand why He doesn’t seem to be intervening for your situation right now?

You’re trying to hang on to hope, but the more time that passes without any apparent change the harder it is.

In Proverbs 13:12 we’re told, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Deferred in this verse refers to a hopeless situation that feels long and drawn out. It’s the seemingly unending and disappointing kind of season that can leave us tempted to look at our lives and question, “Why is God withholding this from me? Since He’s not intervening I’ll just try to fix it myself in my way.”

This dangerous assumption is reminiscent of when Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were free to eat of any other tree in the garden. But Eve listened to the enemy. She got alone with her own thoughts and assumptions. And it led her to doubt her Father. Instead of heeding His instruction (Proverbs 13:1), she took control to get what she wanted. What she thought was best. (Genesis 3)

And as soon as she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit…
Perfection ended.

Curses began.

Consequences were unleashed.

And they were banished from the garden.

If only Eve would have noticed the other tree in the garden with her. The tree of life. The tree of God’s best way and perfect provision. It was there for her. She had a choice.

And so do we.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil may not be in our physical sight today, but Satan is certainly making use of that same sense of disappointment, of our hope deferred. He wants us to be so consumed with our unmet expectations that our hearts just get more and more self-reliant and sick of waiting on God.

But God wants us to look to the tree of life.

Charles Spurgeon once preached, “My dear friends, you will never see the tree of life aright unless you first look at the cross . . . Thus then, Jesus Christ hanging on the cross is the tree of life in its wintertime.”

In the darkest hour this world has ever known, Jesus died on a cross, on a tree, as Galatians 3:13 puts it in the New Living Translation. But just as we know that trees in the wintertime only appear to be dead, so there was a redemptive transformation at work as Jesus hung on the cross.

Your life may be dark and confusing today. But make no mistake, there is a powerful work happening. And Jesus wants us to hear Him saying, “Eve turned to the wrong tree and received death. I hung on a tree to bring you back to life. I am the fulfillment of your every longing. I am your Tree of Life. Look to Me.”

Let’s make a different choice than Eve did. Turn from the deep desire to know all of the reasons and to control all of the outcomes. That knowledge would be a burden and attempting to control it all will do nothing but entangle you with anxiety and fear.

That’s why God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge it would give them was a burden God never wanted them to carry. And maybe that’s why we don’t have all the answers to our “why” questions. God isn’t trying to be distant or mysterious or hard to understand. He’s being merciful.

We don’t have to know the plan to trust there is a plan. We don’t have to feel good to trust there is good coming. We don’t have to see evidence of changes to trust that it won’t always be this hard.

We just have to close our physical eyes and turn our thoughts to Jesus. Fix our thoughts on Him. Say His name over and over and over. And know that we can trust our Father’s heart and His plans.

Father God, You keep showing me that I don’t need answers. I need Jesus. Help me stop the madness of my own assumptions of how things must turn out. My soul was made for assurance. And that is exactly what You have given me. The divine assurance of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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  1. Nico Smith

    I’m always trying to help others, even if I’ve been handed a crazy blow in life. Unfortunately, right now is one of those times. Living here at Deer Path supportive living in Huntley, I’ve seen so much sadness as of late. We’ve just recently lost a resident–and her best friend has been trying to put on a brave face. God has pulled all of us together, simply to make sure that he doesn’t totally crash over the loss of his best friend.

  2. Nola

    So good!

  3. Norma Vannoy

    Beautiful words of encouragement! How do I get the Even If bracelet?

  4. Jillian

    I am going to let my husband read this. We are going through a season of “WHY”right now.

  5. Mary Nelson

    Thank you for your encouraging posts. You are a blessing to me.

    I don’t know where else to post or contact you but wanted you to know that in your emails, your avatar has been missing for quite some time. I would love it if you fixed that for your email followers. I’d like to see you and not a red x.

  6. kim kampmann

    Will You be making the “even if” bracelet available available again?

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Hi Kim! Thank you for asking. Due to an overwhelming response, we have sold out of the “Even If” cuff and will not be restocking it. Have a great day! – Amanda, LT Ministry Team

  7. Priscilla

    Last article very good…


    I just wanted to say thank you for the constant words of encouragement, especially in the season of life I am currently in. I am going through a divorce and my son is angry with me to the point of not speaking to me and it crushes my soul. Thank you for giving me hope that it will be okay, eventually, and reminding me I am never alone.

    God bless!

  9. Cindy Kirkham

    Thank you, Lisa, I am sending this on to my prayer warriors as we are all dealing with some whys and whens in our lives. I am grateful that you work hard to make a difference for Him. Blessings on you and your family.

  10. Heather

    This was so encouraging to my heart as I am waiting in the hospital for some results of a biopsy for my fiancé. It’s been a rough year but I’ve been so blessed as I read your book “It’s not supposed to be this way”…. thanks for using your pain to inspire the rest of us to lean in close to the Jesus. I’m also in ministry and it’s a blessing to have such an honest resource to help me through this time. Thank you!

  11. Sherry Fry

    Listened to this woman on March 24 from Elevation church pulpit and am so impressed with the insights that God has used her to share with the body of Christ. Soo Sooo good. God is working good into your world — his Good, not necessarily yours. Think about it.

  12. Mikayla

    WOW, Just Wow. I opened my computer to study and found myself coming to your page. After a night of flip flopping and sickness from the fear and anxiety of a situation I created… Knowing God didn’t give up on me. He isn’t going to. Knowing he can change it. But knowing I have to be willing to change it makes it scary. The work God is doing is like a tornado twisting and turning, but after the disaster, out comes the sun. I am waiting on the sun! Thank you for being open and pouring out your heart so freely.

    • Susie Pravitz

      You finally wrote about my story…the things you have talked about are some of the things that have happened to me. Only my husband died and my daughter became ill and on life support and I walked thru another cancer battle right after he passed. We were in the same hospital at the time she was on life support and I wasn’t allowed to see her due to Dr’s believing if I did see her, I would get in the way of her healing. My husband had severe lust issues and went so far as going to prostitutes and massage parlors. Not to mention affairs too. I have walked the path of grief several years as we were married 40yrs. Right now I am out of the country living with my son as my husband did not believe in life insurance. I will be back in the US the end of May, however don’t even have a home to go home to. I watched your interview about your book. I sat there in awe. Did someone actually know or walk thru the same things I did? Thank you for your honesty, my life has never calmed down. I am hoping I might have the ability to some day share my story to help others. Only God knows. I could go on and on about my life….right now I am just thankful to hear that you went thru alot of what I did.

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Lysa TerKeurst