By Joy West
The last twelve months have delivered multiple disappointments as governments have mandated lengthy stay-at-home confinements, travel restrictions, closed borders, and severely limited social gatherings of all sizes. The 2020 cancellations, as a result of the Covid pandemic, continue with the 2021 sequel. When will this saga end?! I still have airline vouchers that will expire soon, and will become useless.
One by one, I have deleted or rescheduled anticipated events, conferences, retreats — and continue to do so. Some of them move to an online venue, and some disappear -- distant memory. I feel my hope declining, falling, as I give in to discouragement. I identify with an ancient author when I read his words:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12).
I feel his pain, but justify that my pain is greater. Some of my hopes aren’t just deferred. They are downright cancelled, dashed, completely erased from my calendar.
A few months ago, when I was experiencing week after week of multiple calendar edits like falling dominoes, I revisited the words “hope deferred”.
What if I were to meditate on “HOPE” and not “deferred” or “cancelled”?
Meditating on “deferred” always drags me down. It causes me to focus on the endless waiting for a better tomorrow. It sabotages any thought of gratitude and extinguishes the hope for the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel.
The antithesis for hope deferred is found in the second part of the verse in Proverbs 13:12, “But a dream/longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” And in verse 19, it is paraphrased, “A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul.”
While I recognize that not all of my longings and dreams will be fulfilled, meditating on HOPE lifts my eyes, focus, perspective. My true HOPE should not be based on calendar events, rather in God, who is the source of my hope (Romans 15:13).
I have the power of choice:
Choose to wallow in deferred hope
Choose to deploy hope
Deploy, according to dictionary.com, means “to spread out (troops) so as to form an extended front or line”. This word is usually found in military contexts, but here I will loosely interpret it to mean the following:
I will deploy hope to the front line as a shield and protector against discouragement by focusing on God, the source of my hope.
I may experience disappointment, but I don’t have to give in to discouragement. THAT is my choice. For today.
King David summarized it well when he wrote, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” (Emphasis added)
Questions for reflection:
What are some hopes that have been deferred in your life?
How can you deploy hope today?
For further study:
Read Psalms 42 and 43