Monday, July 21, 2008

Hope deferred

So I can't sleep... it's 1:49am, and as it has often been in the past, the culprit is my usual thorn in the flesh, good ol' hope deferred, the thing that the writer of Proverbs says "makes the heart sick." This particular hope deferred is by no means unique to me, but has dogged me for most of my life, and has led to a lot of spectacularly poor decision making that has baffled everyone close to me... and in retrospect, baffled me as well.

I know that everyone lives with something that eats at them in the middle of the night... sometimes lots of somethings. I am mindful of, and grateful for, the large variety of things that I DON'T have to worry about that other folks do. I think the thing that bothers me the most is not the waiting, but the sickness of soul that results, and what I do when I'm feeling it the most, and how much that basically amounts to a failure of faith... which then makes the whole situation worse because I feel like I haven't just failed myself but failed God. So it's a nasty little cycle and it's kept me back from a variety of things for a long time.

If I recall correctly, the writer of Proverbs chucks in this little couplet

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick
but desire fulfilled is a tree of life"

without context, in one of those series of chapters that are basically lots of wise sayings that are not in any particular order. I remember clinging to that a long long time ago, thinking ok so God gets it, and He will take care of it. Which I guess is true, but that doesn't mean that He gives us the object of our hope. What it means --or I guess the meaning I've ascribed to it-- is that our sickness isn't pointless, and that He uses it for something. I'm pretty sure that's true of me... I have a lot of energy for other things when I'm not fixated on that one thing, and the struggle with this particular thorn in the flesh has taught me some measure of humility. However, when I am fixated on it, it's like I'm in a battle with Tar Baby from the Uncle Remus stories. I act like a crazy shadow of my normal self, and I get stucker and stucker and stucker as I attempt to solve the problem on my own terms without waiting for Him.

I knew I was asking for it when I wrote that poem last week. ;^\

So I'm up at what is now 2:10am, with a sick heart and this same old hope deferred, and a mind that won't shut up about it already... and I thought I'd announce it to anyone who reads my blog, because I --along with I guess everyone else who does the same thing-- write and read to know that I'm not alone.


Mike said...

Oh no, you're not alone-- I'm also vexed by the Proverbs and their overstated simplicity ;-)

Mike Croghan said...


Well, here's some cold comfort for you: folks without passion probably don't suffer from this "hope deferred" business so much. I truly believe that would be worse.

I'm sure that helps a lot. :-\

Manda. said...


That stuff that keeps you up late is, for sure, frustrating, but I'm glad to see you could still blog about it and feel, like you said, that you're not alone. Desire is one of those tricky things...that Proverbs verse about desire seems like it's saying "Life is good when you get what you want!" Which, I'm sure, was not the intention, but yes, it's that simplicity you also mention...if only life were actually that simple. And if only we knew what we really wanted...

I'm sorry your heart has been sick, but I hope it gets well soon. Thanks for posting this.

WMS said...

Amy, when I feel that sense of hope deferred making my heart sick... I think about my gifts like you do and I heard a speaker talk recently about writing down his blessings every morning with a hot cup of coffee in his hand. I've been doing that and it's been doing wonders... and then when all else fails, I remember the suffering of others and somehow it helps to see survivors (like my dad and mom) who have life soo much worse than anyone I know and yet they find joy in a flower, a bird, a rock (my dad is now collecting them again) and a hike in the woods.

not a sermon, just a thought ;)