A Hope Check

Written by Rachel Denison

Does hope scare you like it does me? It’s a concept I’ve had trouble with for at least the last year. It’s something I’ve grappled with and strived to understand. But still, hope scares me. The Bible contains a very real proverb that has proven true in my heart time and time again. Proverbs 13:12 reads,

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

It’s for this very reason that hope scares me. The definition of deferred is to put off to a later time or postpone. Have you ever set your hopes deeply on something and seen it deferred? It’s heartbreaking to say the least! In the moment when a hope, promise or word from God is deferred, it’s hard to remember just that. It is only deferred. It is only put off or postponed to a later time. It is not dead. 

In our shortsighted nature, it’s unfortunately easy to give up and entirely lose perspective. It’s all too easy to forget God’s word never returns void and to allow our trust to slip in our unshakable King. I've often read Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5 and wondered how it can be true. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.” I am pretty sure my hopes have caused a lot of disappointment in me!

It’s in these times I am forced to ask myself: where does my hope lie? I always ultimately realize my hopes were in my hopes. Not in the One who spoke the hope. It’s not about the promise, but about Who spoke the promise. And there our hearts find rest. There our hope is actually secure. Though a promise is deferred it is not void. We cannot confuse the two. 

I consistently have to give myself what I call a “Hope Check.” My thoughts, my fears, my literal dreams are all constantly pointing to where I’m securing my hope. Most of the time, that is scary! No wonder hope has scared me for so long. This world is full of broken promises, fallen people and fallen bodies; it's full of hope deferred. 

In the Bible, our God is called the God of hope. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” The well of hope we draw from is not of this world; it is not in the things that we really want to see come to pass. The sustaining hope that does not disappoint is found securely in the promises of the One whose “love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

There is a reason true hope does not disappoint, and it has nothing to do with what we want. Give yourself a "Hope Check" today. Allow the love of God to flood your mind once again and remind you of his genuine faithfulness, his sustaining power and his unwavering goodness. May your hope abound.

I am reminded of this simple hymn lyric as I write today:

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures. (Amazing Grace)


“Hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” –Romans 5:5