A lengthy waiting period can either make or break our hope. We can react by growing bitter and losing hope. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prv 13:12). For example, a man had been sick for thirty-eight years (Jn 5:5ff). Although he daily placed himself in a position of hope by the side of the healing waters, he had lost hope and didn't expect to be healed. When Jesus came to him, he had excuses instead of expectations (Jn 5:7). He built his life around going through the motions of hope, but he was a man "without hope" (Eph 2:12).
Alternatively, we can use a long and difficult waiting period to increase in hope and get better instead of bitter. "Affliction makes for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope" (Rm 5:3-4). Instead of breaking our hope, the difficulty and the long period of time without seeing makes for a hope full of patient endurance (Rm 8:24-25). Simeon (Lk 2:25ff) and Anna (Lk 2:36ff) used a long period of waiting to grow better, not bitter. Instead of going through the motions of hope, they devoted their hearts to God and became full of hope.
For what have you been hoping and praying a long time? Are you going through the motions of praying for these intentions without having any real hope of the Lord answering your prayers? Like the growth of a mustard seed, sometimes in God's kingdom things take a long time. Ask God for an increase of hope. With Simeon and Anna, say: "this hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us" (Rm 5:5).
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2007 through November 30, 2007.
†Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 3, 2007.