Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Hope is a funny thing. Without we feel like there is no reason to put one foot in front of the other. We feel alone and like there is no purpose. With it we are looking forward to what lies ahead. We have purpose and excitement. But, hope can also lead to frustration. We know better is possible. We know where we are headed is better than where we are coming from, but it is just taking so long to get there. Hope itself can sometimes be exhausting.
I think those are the moments Solomon was referring to when he wrote this proverbs. When our hope goes unfulfilled, or we have to wait a really long time for it, we do feel sick. But, at the same time it is that very hope that keeps us moving forward anyway. It seems weird to say the very thing that has caused our exhaustion is the very thing that keeps us pushing through it. But, as Solomon points out, that is exactly what happens, perhaps more times than we care to admit.
The writer of Hebrews had a similar reality to share with us. In Hebrews 11 the writer makes a long list of people we would consider heroes of the faith. In verse 13 of that chapter we are struck with the harsh reality that “all these died in faith, without receiving the promises.” Their hope was deferred beyond this life. Are we ready to hope and hope until the day we die even if we never receive the thing we are hoping for?
For us to live that hopeful of a life we will need faith. Not only did all these people have tremendous hope, they had tremendous faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” Faith gives us what hope deferred can’t – an assurance that even if we don’t see it fulfilled it is still worth hoping for. The heroes of the faith knew that if they didn’t see those promises fulfilled someone else will. They weren’t just hoping for themselves, they were hoping for everyone. Their faith wasn’t in the outcome of their hopes, but in the source of their hope – God Himself.
In this life we will experience hope deferred, but when we put our faith in the source – God, the tree of life, we can live with assurance despite our disappointment. Has your hope been deferred? That’s ok, you are in good company. Have faith, hold on to that hope, and keep your eyes on Jesus – the author and perfector of our faith.
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Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.