Pick-Me-Up: Hope Deferred

© 2012 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

I’ll never forget the day my twelve-year-old brother announced, “There is no Santa Claus.”

I was five at the time, and we were riding in the back seat of my mother’s 1965 Volkswagen bug.

My brother’s timing was impeccable.  I had just had my photo taken with Santa.

It was a cold, rainy day in the San Francisco Bay area, and I did my best to hold back my tears even though they threatened to mingle with the raindrops beading on bug’s back window.

My hopes and expectations dashed; the day closed in around me. I wondered if there would even be a Christmas that year.

My brother had essentially dumped a bucket of cold snow on my holiday cheer.  With his single shocking revelation, my childhood fantasies gave way to adult realities.

In this way, my first truly memorable disappointment made its debut.

And I keenly sympathized with the inhabitants of C.S. Lewis’ frozen Narnia.

I wondered if there would even be a Christmas that year.

Indeed.  In his children’s classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis perfectly painted the disappointment, heartbreak and weariness that we all inevitably encounter.

We certainly long for better.

But as Shakespeare once wrote, “Now is the winter of our discontent…”

You and I grieve many things in this world…

Perhaps, a son or daughter has wandered into dangerous waters,

a spouse has betrayed you or a loved one,

financial failure threatens,

health concerns may overshadow the season,

 or you’ve lost a loved one.

Maybe, this Christmas, you feel life is especially tenuous.  And like Lewis’ Narnia inhabitants, you wonder if Christmas blessings will ever come.

In this world, you and I face an avalanche of disappointed hope.

You may face an avalanche of disappointed hope. Undoubtedly, in this world, grief, injustice, fear, and evil run amok. It’s enough to make anyone heartsick.

Indeed. Solomon himself wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” (Proverbs 13:12).

Never has truer word been spoken.

Thankfully, ‘deferred’ is the operative word. Otherwise, this would be a pretty depressing proverb.

I’m glad Solomon didn’t stop with the first part of the verse.  The whole of his proverb reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Pain, suffering and disappointment are only temporary.  They are hope deferred.

What it really comes down to is this:  Abba’s path to paradise is radically different from the road we expect.

He promised His people welfare, a future and hope.  Yet, the journey to that blessing has never run according to human wisdom.

What it really comes down to is this:  Abba’s path to paradise is radically different from the road we expect.

Christmas actually reminds me that God’s ways frequently don’t make human sense.

In early A.D., expectations for an earthly ruler ran high in Israel.  I imagine that many bedtime prayers included requests for the Messiah to crush the Roman Empire. God’s people understandably looked for their Messianic king.

Their Old Testament Scripture readings focused on Messiah as conquering king.  And the Jews were not alone in such thinking. When the Magi arrived in Israel, they told Herod that they looked for the prophesied king of Israel.

The coming reign of David’s heir was much-anticipated.

In this context, God’s plan is particularly shocking:   a stable and a manger greeted Messiah. There were no kingly halls prepared nor were there any courtiers to wait upon the Christ’s every need.

Instead, the long-expected One walked among the socially unacceptable: tax collectors, lepers, the poor, Samaritans, and sinners. Then, He suffered and died on a cross–death reserved by Rome for criminals.

Christmas reminds me that God’s ways frequently don’t make human sense.

Of course, God’s people had missed a significant part of God’s plan.  Although Isaiah had described the “suffering servant” (Isaiah 53), Yahweh’s children understandably favored Biblical passages that identified Messiah as conquering king (Isaiah 9:6).

Yet, both paths are essential to Abba’s plan.

The crown of thorns precedes the crown of glory.  In “winter”, the “Seed” died (Genesis 3:15).

Hope deferred.

As Lewis wrote allegorically, Aslan must die in place of Edmund, the traitor.

But the Gospel didn’t end there:  Messiah overcame death

Desire fulfilled brought a tree of life to all those who believe.

Because of Christ’s resurrection, the enemy’s icy grip did not hold. Narnia’s snow began to melt.  Hope dawned.

The crown of thorns precedes the crown of glory.

In fact, God’s initially incomprehensible plan enabled our long-term best.

For this reason, while cold winter may temporarily shroud this world, God’s gift brings us this promise: “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Such is our confidence.

So it is that when winter’s storms mingle with tears or an avalanche of disappointment threatens to bury hope, Christ reaches out with His scarred hand to pull us from life’s cold, snowy drifts.

And He utters some of the most beautiful words ever heard: “My child…”

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich,” ~2 Corinthians 8:9

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” ~2 Corinthians 9:15

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

48 thoughts on “Pick-Me-Up: Hope Deferred

  1. Beautiful tie-in with hope deferred and hope realized. I have been deliberately thinking of backing off on giving you compliments because it seems you and I have a habit of doing so quite frequently but you keep making it so difficult with these beautiful insights. Maybe next time! Many blessing to you and yours Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s hilarious, Bruce, because I have thought the same. I thought that I must start commenting purely on the content since I am running out of ways to say what a wonderful blog you write. 🙂 Thank you so much for your ongoing encouragement, Bruce. It never gets old since when I post, I am usually uncertain as to whether or not the message/theme of a post is clear…it is great to have good friends like you who offer comments that let me know that I have communicated clearly. God bless you greatly!

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      • Thank you Lynn, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your posts and how much I appreciate the beautiful spirit that you have. Really looking forward to meeting you when we are with our Lord. Many blessings!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, and I’m looking forward to meeting you then as well! Your blog is such a blessing for me–not only personally but also as a resource for my 22-year-old. I trust your wise understanding of Scripture and your thorough research to guide me through a myriad of issues that I otherwise would not be able to navigate simply because I don’t have the time to explore them. Your blog is truly a gold mine. And thank you so much for your kind words! It really means a lot to me. Because of my physical weariness from ongoing medical treatment (thankfully, that’s soon to be completed), I have in times past prayed about stepping away from my blog. However, God has not released me from it 😉 And when He calls me, then I must certainly obey. 🙂 And so, you see, your encouragement has truly buoyed me on days when posting seemed an overwhelming task. For this reason, I thank you with all my heart! You have blessed me many times over!

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  2. First of all…a beautiful painting…absolutely—
    My dad had a light blue VW bug about the same age..I can’t remember exactly when he got it…but I thought it the coolest thing as my friend and I would climb in the way back little “trunk” storage area behind the backside to ride—-talk about a death sentence of ignorance in those days….

    And what you share Lynn—the disappointment and sorrow cutting the sharp contrast to the same moment that is to be both light and uplifting…it is a paradox of our lives as humans.
    Truth and fantasy, innocence and reality, light and darkness, wants and needs…our age old dilemma told so poignantly by a young girl whose world of joy and happiness was shattered in an instant revelation of the world’s reality….

    And yet there is the One who remains, offering us Hope—that we will again have that same sense of innocence and joy…yet not in this world.

    And yes, such is our confidence!

    And I hope your mom grounded your brother 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, dear Julie! It is an old painting, but it remains one of my favorites.

      Of course, you rode in a VW bug as a kid because you and I are kindred spirits! 🙂 And yes, I loved riding in that trunk storage space. Sometimes, I’d take my pillow with me and curl up and look at the stars. When I was able to buy a car right before college, I bought a 1967 bug. Loved it.

      I don’t recall whether Mom grounded my brother, but I think he did get in some kind of trouble. 😉 Thank you for your thoughtful comments! You write so beautifully that it is a pleasure reading your “summary” of my post’s theme. You turn my ordinary prose into poetry! You are a gem. ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yes, Julie! I did see your thoughtful comment. I just haven’t had the opportunity to write. My son and I have been sharing a car… and thus, I’ve been on the road this semester as I use the car for errand while he’s in his college classes. But I will try to email soon! Love and huge hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn- I totally understand—this is the time of year I get called into servitude for my husband’s store—it’s a jewelry store he’s owned and operated since the mid 70’s—
        I work Christmas time—not that I know much or can work the register plus he has a staff—- but at Christmas, he needs more help and usually gets a few college girls—-some are dependable, some not so much—so I do my best—He likes it cause “I know folks”—but that’s just from having been a teacher for 31 years…..plus I can talk :)—I tell folks I’m his walmart greeter 🙂 —plus I can wrap—
        so both our son and I were there today—Brenton actually drives down from Atlanta to help….so it’s a family affair—-but I think Brenton prefers it when I’m not there cause I usually embarrass him 🙂
        So right now, my life is NOT my own 🙂
        Nor will it be until….hum….Jan 3rd

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      • Hello, dear Julie! I’m planning on emailing you tomorrow! I’ve been asked to sit at one of the galleries that exhibits my work. Dunno how many people will come through for me to talk with and so I’m bringing my computer with me just in case. I suspect that I’ll have time to catch up on emails because most people will probably be at the mall doing their Christmas shopping 😉 I think it is fantastic that you and your husband have your own business! But I can well imagine that this is a crazy busy time of year for you! I’ll write more in my email! Love and hugs to you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oooo, speaking at a gallery…how cool is that! I admire you selling and “doing that art thing”—folks always asked if I’d sell my things….but I never did…maybe one day I’ll get back to painting 🙂

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      • Oh, well, lookee here! I didn’t see your comment before I sent you an email! Oops. I definitely think you should get back to painting. Your work is fantastic! And you should consider selling for sure if for no other reason than that it will put you in touch with a local artist community, and I know you’d love it. Have a beautiful day, dear Julie! Huge Hugs! ❤

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  3. Last Sunday in our fast and testimony meeting, a sister reminded me of the truth that the Lord knows the whole plan and that is why we need to trust in Him. He sees the entire picture which we are living of a small part.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love today’s post!!!! I love the fact we both shared themes of hope too ❤ ❤ ❤ It's awesome how God connects us without us knowing.

    I really need to reread Narnia. 🙂

    I started questioning Santa probably late. But there was a time when my mom asked me one Christmas Eve if I wanted to help her with the presents, bring them in. I said yes, and finally knew.

    I loved reading your descriptions in this post, as I tend to do in your others, but I really wanted to make sure I told you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, T.R.!! God connects you and me again and again! And I love that as well!

      Narnia… I love the entire series and reread it all the time. C.S. Lewis has a way of integrating such deep truth in his “children’s” stories. I’m glad your mom gently allowed you to discover about Santa. What a wise mom you have! And thank you for your thoughtful encouragement! That means the world to me, T.R.! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This fills my heart with hope, Lynn. Everything about it. The crushing of a childhood, hope-filled dream. The reminder of Narnia and how Aslan melted the snow. Your beautiful painting also brings out this message. The proverb – how hope deferred makes our hearts sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. I had always focused more on the first part, but the second part is so important. I need to focus more on the “desire fulfilled!” I’m so glad Jesus came to bring us hope eternal! Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful words of assurance Lynn and yes when we feel “hope is deferred” we remember, desire fulfilled is a Tree of Life.” which is as you shared in Christ Jesus.

    I remember as an Atheist at least I was in my thinking but not my Heart as was shown later, believing that I had No Hope of seeing my 7 Babies again that died at Birth or before but than as a Christian I had God’s Promise in my Heart that we would be Reunited in Heaven. How wonderful it is to have our Assurance and Hope in our God of Love and not in what the World offers instead.

    Christian Love Lynn and God’s Blessings,
    Anne ( Grannie Annie)

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    • Oh, Anne… I’m so sorry for your loss. How your heart must have grieved and yet, how true that we do not grieve without hope! You are so right. That assurance and hope in Christ makes all the difference! Praise God for His grace and love! Thank you for sharing your story with me, Anne. You are a blessing to so many including me. ❤

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      • Thank you so much Lynn for your encouragement on my Blog and on yours, it is very much appreciated.

        In reference again to hope is deferred, my Computer crashed last night and I lost all my Inbox, all the Posts I was wanting to comment on and all my other Notifications from WordPress, so I’m sorry Lynn as I had saved some of your recent Posts to comment on too but I will visit again tonight and look for them that is if all goes well, I’m using an old Laptop now.

        Blessings – Anne.

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      • Oh, I’m so very sorry to hear about your computer crash, Anne! No worries about commenting. I completely understand. I will pray that God enables you to restore what was lost. God bless you greatly! Hugs!

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  7. You, Ms.Lynn have a way with words that light up the imagination. Very pure and sweet how you tie it all together. Very warm and inviting ( like a nice cup of hot chocolate on a winter’s day 🤗). Thank you.

    How awesome is our God! Pure love unaltered. May God bless you richly, always.

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