Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick

I’ve often felt sorry for Hope. It’s up there with the best, but rarely gets a mention in sermons. Faith, yes. And Love? Well, it’s the best! But Hope… it seems like a second cousin to Faith, as if it were not quite as spiritual, and wouldn’t ‘work’ as effectively as faith; and ‘why do we need them both?’

That’s been my perception; others could think differently. People say, ‘I hope so’, when asked for a definite answer to a question, but I have a lot of affection for Hope. I even like Hope as a Christian name, as a young boy in our church is called. 

How many of us have been wishing that horrible pandemic would go away? Who has fervently hoped that their ‘normal’ life would soon return. Some people have even promised it would be over quickly, but then heavier restrictions have come in. People can’t be blamed for thinking it would be better not to have their hopes raised at all. I’ve often recalled the proverb that King Solomon wrote:  

Hope deferred makes the heart sick… ~ Proverbs 13:12 (Authorised Version)

I knew it was in the Bible, but I checked so I could include it here. I was only half-quoting it! That would have been embarrassing, wouldn’t it? Those of you who are more familiar with this verse will notice a bit missing there. Can you quote the rest? For many years, although I’d often read it, I must have only memorised half of it in the days when my brain was sharper, or perhaps I only ever heard it quoted that way, as happens with many proverbs! Well, here’s the whole thing, but in a different translation:

When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed, but a wish come true fills you with joy ~ Good News version.

Here’s how it’s expressed in The Message Bible: Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.

They all give the same idea, but I really like the Good News. It is good news, isn’t it? There’s something about joy that’s hard to beat, especially in the difficult days we’ve been experiencing this year. How wonderful to finally rejoice when the news we’ve been waiting on for months – but never seemed to happen – turns up, and hallelujah, we’ve really got it! 

I think hope is knowing that God’s hanging in there with us until the good times arrive. He knows what it’s like to wait. He always knows when it’s going to happen, but when he promised that he’d send someone to save the world from the power of sin, it seemed a long time before Jesus arrived, but he did. And he completed his glorious victory.

Here’s J.B. Phillips’ translation of Romans 5: 2-5: let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future.

 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us

Hope now!!

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