“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). As you read these words, I know this about you. I know you have many hopes. Many longings. Many dreams. Many aspirations.
You hope you have a good marriage. You hope that one day you get married. You hope to have kids. You hope your kids stay healthy. You hope you keep your job. You hope to find a job. You hope to make it through college. You hope you have enough money to retire. You hope to find purpose in your retirement. You hope to find happiness. You hope to make it through another day. You hope to get through the COVID-19 pandemic before you lose your mind.
But hope deferred makes the heart sick. We know that to be true. You and I have experienced it. Some of you have hoped for your loved one to be healed, but they weren’t. You are deferring that hope for heaven, but for now, your heart is sick. You hoped for a happy marriage, but divorce came anyway. You are deferring your hope in the unspoken pain of marital betrayal, and your heart is sick. You hope for life to return to normal, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon . . . if ever. Your deferred hope makes your heart sick.
So, here’s my question for you. In what do you place your hope? Is hope a roll of the dice, a gamble that maybe things will work out? Yes, if you place your hope in the wrong thing. If you place your ultimate hope on the economy, the government, your company, your spouse, your kids, or anything that can shift with the shadows, your hope is not deferred; it is decommissioned. In truth, you are without hope.
If, however, you place your hope in something, yes, in Someone who is unmovable, unchanging, steadfast, secure, indomitable, and accessible, your hope may be deferred . . . for now. But one day your hope will be realized.
What did Jesus say? “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). Our hearts are sick in this world from deferred hope, but here’s the rest of Proverbs 13:12—"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” The tree of life is in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7). Not all longings are fulfilled in this life, but all longings that flow from hope in Jesus are fulfilled in the paradise of God.
This is why we need to “hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:18b-19a, NIV). This is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3b-4, ESV).
I encourage you this day—don’t . . . give . . . up . . . on . . . hope, at least not on the hope that, though deferred, will never disappoint.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.