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Hope Deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

This is the season of Advent. An aching, heartsick kind of yearning for the great finder of lost sons and daughters, the fulfillment of every longing, the redeemer of broken people, the healer of painful pasts, the Savior of the world. Our Jesus - the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Our friend, our helper, our strength, and our perfect parent. This is the season of hope deferred and the heartsick sinner. 

I love the season of Advent. It’s such a beautiful picture of who we were as ones once lost in our sins, awaiting a savior, and the fulfillment of prophecy and desire coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

This season extends beyond Christmas time. We all find ourselves in this spiritual season at one point or another when our hope is deferred, held in waiting, far away, dragging along, and our hearts are aching, longing, reaching for hope. In those moments, we stand at the crossroads of doubt or anticipation. I’d like to suggest to you that conscious choosing of anticipation over doubt, belief in God’s goodness and rescue over fear and negativity, is the beginning of our longing fulfilled. 

I’m thinking of the mother of Jesus tonight as I write this. Earlier today, my mind was unable to let go of the mother of God and all of the questions I had for her…all of the questions she must have had after the angel came to tell her what the Lord was going to do, who she was going to be, who she would raise as her child, and what he would do. At first I wondered if she was filled with doubt, but then I remembered her response to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Luke 1:38 How after Jesus was born, she treasured the stories of the shepherds coming to learn about Jesus’ birth and their coming King. She thought about them always. This doesn’t sound like a doubting woman to me. 

I immediately thought, “See that’s why the Lord didn’t pick me to be the mother of God.” I would have doubted what my eyes had seen and ears had heard. I would have wondered if I imagined it all. I would have questioned if God chose the right person. As far as it’s recorded, Mary entered into this waiting season with anticipation, not doubt. She took God at his word and believed in his goodness. She chose trust and that anticipation was the beginning of her longing fulfilled. The anticipation gave her life and made room for her to flourish and thrive in her God-given role as the mother of the Christ. 

Doubt tends to make us feel like we are suffocating under its weight. We can’t see what God is doing, we can’t hear his voice, and we struggle to put one foot in front of the other because we don’t know if we are going the right way. Doubt pushes that hope, the longing, further and further into the distance and drains the life right out of us. 

Sister, what are you hoping for? What are you aching and longing to see come into your life? Can I just encourage you, in our season of advent, choose anticipation. Believe in God’s goodness and trust that he is at work in your life right now. The answer to your hope may not be what you thought it would be, but God will answer you and he will fulfill the longing. When thoughts of doubt or fear or “what ifs” enter your mind, change your thinking, tell yourself to bless the Lord and anticipate his arrival, hope fulfilled. 

As we remember the coming of Christ and our own redemption, as we look ahead and wait and ache for total healing and completion in the day of Christ’s return, lets choose joyful anticipation. For Christ is coming. Our hope will be seen. Our longing will be fulfilled. And we will be filled forever with eternal life in the Kingdom of God. In the presence of our hope and salvation, Jesus Christ.

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