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Holding on to Hope

Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, CEB).

My swallowing problems have resumed since the stent’s removal August 3. I returned to Duke last week for another upper endoscopy to determine the cause. I go back tomorrow to have another endoscopy and receive another stent that will hopefully allow the healing to be completed. The bottom line: my esophagus has been badly damaged by radiation a few years ago. My case is the hardest, most complicated my doctor has ever seen. Pray God will inspire him and his team. For the first week following the stent’s removal, the swallowing wasn’t as good as I expected. Nonetheless, I enjoyed a lot of great food, including an amazing seafood boil, plate of shrimp and grits. I had to be careful not to eat too much. I still couldn’t eat everything, but I believed a full access diet would come. Steak, bread, pizza, and more were within reach. Now I’m back on a primarily liquid diet with very limited soft foods until the new stent comes out after a couple months. My hope for food freedom has been dashed again. “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). I am frustrated, disappointed, and hungry.

The day before my doctor gave me the disappointing news, the Lord gave me this verse in my morning devotional time. “Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 CEB). My hope has been delayed. Other translations go with “deferred”, which implies it will happen just not today. I like that. Others go with “hopes crushed” or “unrelenting disappointments.” Whatever you choose to call it, your heart becomes sick. Hopes unrealized are a painful part of life. Dreams don’t always come true, on our schedule, or in our lifetime. The second part of this verse needs equal attention. “Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Yes, many hopes have been delayed. But many of my hopes have been realized. God has come through for me time after time. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). Countless longings, dreams, and desires have been fulfilled, throughout my life including today. The same is surely true for you. Here are a few of mine. (I encourage you to make a list of your own.) - Surviving cancer. Doctors diagnosed me with lung cancer stage 4 in 2017. Every cancer free scan and report since has been a longing fulfilled. - Amy and I celebrating our 25th anniversary and renewed our wedding vows in Hawaii last year. Talk about a dream come true! - Moving our 3 kids into college. When we moved our oldest into her dorm in 2017, I didn’t know if I would be alive to move her out at year’s end. This August, 6 years later, we just moved in our youngest for his first year. -Amy receiving her RN and BSN and becoming a nurse. To see your spouse accomplish her long pursued dream overcoming many obstacles... I've never been more happy for anyone!

- My graduating from Duke Seminary and being ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church. All our most important “longings fulfilled” are fulfilled by Jesus: the forgiveness of my sin and freedom from its power. The promise of eternal life. We don’t have to fear death. We have peace with God, and assurance that we are his beloved child. The Holy Spirit lives in us, teaching, and making us like him. Knowing he will come again to make all things right and new provides enduring hope. "For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Even in these current disappointments, Jesus satisfies my longings. He is with me. His saints and angels minister to me. I’m not alone. He provides my daily bread, everything I need. I’m fatigued, but he strengthens me. I’m busted, but I’m blessed. I’m waiting patiently, and he lifts me up.

All the longings filled form for us a “tree of life.” This Biblical image represents God’s provision of all our needs and the complete satisfaction of the soul. The tree of life provides an opportunity to branch out and try new things, climb up to a new perspective, find shelter in its shade and shelter, and remain deeply rooted in Jesus. Our tree of life offers a place to wait and rest when hopes are delayed.


My book How Cancer Cured Me has been chosen for a monthly Kindle deal for September. The entire month you can purchase my eBook on Amazon for just $0.99! Don't miss this opportunity to read about and help spread the message the hope and healing power of Jesus' Christ!

To hear more messages like this, please visit my blog at and check out my book, How Cancer Cured Me. If you'd like an author's copy, let me know.


“Daily Reflections from Inside the Cancer Journey, a collection of 365 Daily devotionals” will launch January 1, 2024 as a daily text or email anyone can sign up to receive and a searchable online collection of all 365 devotions.

A selection of devotionals and more information can be found here.

For more than a year I have been writing daily devotionals for Cancer Companions’ soon to be released I am one of 13 authors who wrote devotionals for this resource, I have received several copies of a sample booklet that includes one devotional from each author. If you’d like one, let me know, provide your mailing address, and I'll send your one.

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