Hope Deferred

January 26, 2012

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“Hope deferred makes heart sick.” (Prov. 13:12)

This verse has been turning over and over in my mind the last while. I posted earlier about the fears missionaries face. One of those was the question of the mission field becoming a home for your family. In that initial post, I shared how we had missed out on buying a home.

Part two of the story comes in when we bid on another home. It was better and cheaper than the first. We lowballed the offer and it was accepted. It had a bigger yard which is a huge desire for our kids.

That coupled with some never before seen financial provisions. The conclusion was clear.

God was leading.

We submitted our paperwork for financing very confidently. This began an up and down journey for a month filled with both good and bad news. Banks rejecting us. Appealing to executives who give us hope. Only to be denied again.

Finally, the journey ended. We were out of options. We had to let the house and our dreams go.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Now, on the other side of this disappointment, I have begun to reflect on what this was all about. I started to face my unanswered questions. As a family we found ourselves disappointed, but not devastated.

The lesson in faith I was learning was about focusing on the Source of my faith, not the result. My faith is in an unchanging, totally in control God. It is not in ever-changing circumstances. My faith certainly is not in the all-powerful, unbending, banks!

Now this was not the first time I have “learned” this, nor will it be the last. This is a lesson of repetition throughout our lives. (at least mine it seems!)

I learned this when I was pursuing my wife, knowing we were to be married, only to find her running even faster in the other direction.
I learned this in overcoming abusive leadership early in ministry, so I could last for the last 20 years.
I learned this in fighting a long battle for my adopted son until we finally got custody, finalizing the adoption and his citizenship in spite of innumerable obstacles.

Faith has to be in something, or Someone, who does not change. Faith cannot be based on the results. If it is based on this or even our experiences, we become a church of schizophrenic believers. Everyone would have their own definition of God, based on their own stories.

No, my faith must be in Someone secure,  Someone unchanging, and Someone who is not surprised at the future even when I am.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 tells us, “be happy when times are good…..” That is easy. Even a child can do that. The second half of the verse says, “but when times are bad, know that God has made one as well as the other.” (NIV)

Herein lies the challenge.

To be faithful in the disappointments.
To endure when the money is low or that habitual sin rears its ugly head.
It’s a commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when your hopes and dreams are not becoming reality.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

This is the current state of my emotions. It is a good thing my faith is not based on emotion alone, it is based on the Source. God is the Source of my trust and I will keep moving forward. Disappointment will not shake me, only sadden me.

Do you need a reminder of this today? If so, will you share both your disappointment and your choice to trust in the Lord?

Photo courtesy of Stock Xchange. http://www.sxc.hu/

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God