There are over 300 million people living in the United States. Based on that figure alone, the “American Dream” is an endeavor that requires climbing over people, shattering rising monuments, a lot of squabbling, sometimes stealing or cheating, and often wielding a hefty amount of pride.
The confounding realization for a lot of American Christians is that they have to remain humble and meek while somehow adhering to the cultural norm of capitalism: work hard and make a lot of money for your family, and then hopefully have some left over for retirement, and then you die.
While my admittedly cynical approach to the American Dream is moderately achievable for anyone who lives in this country, if you really want it bad enough, with varying degrees of success, the great majority of people don’t get to all of their “dreams” in their lifetime. And that hurts.
Proverbs 13:12 reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick / But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
I know that every adult dwelling on this earth has felt heartsick. We feel the searing heat of bills or expectations shoot through our bodies, and sometimes the sensation can make us feel literally nauseous.
It is essential to recognize outright that hope will come. If you abide in the Lord, it is guaranteed. The word “deferred” implies a temporary delay. You might say, “Though I’ve trusted in you, Lord, my life remains difficult.” Did not the Lord walk this earth to identify with your struggles?
But maybe it has to do with priorities. Many people live on the equivalent of a dollar a day around the world. In the US, this isn’t feasible, but we can definitely do with a lot less. What are you sacrificing in order to get some OT? How many channels out of 635720 do you actually watch? Do you really “need” a new car or phone?
Even then, it is the Lord that provides hope; it is not of yourself. If you have a general preconception of what kind of lifestyle or income you’re supposed to have, it is likely ill-conceived, put on by a society that demands you to be satisfied with a consumer mentality of MORE. We should probably quit that. The Lord desires to comfort and satisfy by His Spirit, and if we look eternally, the joy increases that much more. On that level, what is your life worth?
And that doesn’t diminish what Solomon writes in the featured Proverb. The anguish of life and its empty promises still sting. But how much suffering and worry will it take before a sincere trust in the Lord replaces all of your desires. Indeed, this understanding is like a tree of life, ever growing, and never running out.