Hope deferred

Hope deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Psalms 119:81 I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.

Psalms 73:26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

2021 was a year of a global shortage of computer chips and supply chains disruptions. When the countries of the world more or less shut down during the pandemic, manufacturing ground to a halt. As the economy began to recover hundreds of container ships were left waiting at sea to unload at West Coast. There were not enough dockworkers to unload the ships nor were there drivers and trucks available to carry the merchandise by road. Consequently, consumers were warned to expect shortages of the whole gamut of merchandise like toys, clothes, and appliances, and delays in order fulfillment. Global supply chains disruptions wreaked havoc creating disruptions, universal delays. Disappointment became the new norm for many.

When our desires and aspirations are delayed in being fulfilled, a natural response is an inner impatience, longing, disappointment, sadness, and heart sickness.

Proverbs 13:1 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

A striking contrast of opposites comparing when hope and desire are realized with when they are not unfulfilled or left incomplete. Hope deferred, delayed, and drawn out makes the heart sick, but a longing, desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

“When hope for success in life is deferred or drawn out too long, hope dies and the whole body sickens. When, on the other hand, even glimmers of success appear, it is as though the ‘sap’ of life has been restored. Then one has a heart at peace (Proverbs 14:30); the inner life is more tranquil, even-tempered (Cohen) rather than being agitated (full of envy, which rots the bones); serenity like this is also conducive to health (gives life to the body, Proverbs 14:30a).” (John W. Miller).

The Hebrew term translated as deferred is mashak. Mashak is the passive form of a verb whose basic meaning is to drag or draw, thus it connotes something held back for a later time, a long-drawn-out process. It refers to those times when the fulfillment of our hopes and expectations is delayed or postponed.

The common Hebrew word for heart is leb. Leb often refers to not merely the physical organ, but rather one’s mental or emotional center. Sometimes it connotes the whole person. The figurative expression makes the heart sick, connotes the idea as, “causes a person to despair or be afflicted” (USB). The phrase has been translated as “heart is crushed” (TEV).

The Hebrew term translated as desire is taavah. Taavah refers to something which is desired or sought after. A desire may refer to something positive that is wanted or looked forward to. It rhymes in thought with the word Hope earlier in the verse.

Fulfilled is the translation of the Hebrew word vaah which means to bring things desired into effect, or to realize them.

This verse can be restated, “If a person thinks about getting something but has to wait a long time for it, he will be very sad” (UBS).

Regarding our desires, hopes and, aspirations, when they are realized, everything seems right with the world, when they are not, the world becomes a very sad, dark, and lonely place.


Regardless of the situation or circumstance, we should always go first to the Father for His counsel. We should tell our own souls what King Jehoshaphat told the king of Israel: “But first let’s find out what the LORD says” (1 Kings 22:5) (Stanley).

Father, what a delight to be able to say, “You are the stronghold of my life.” I place my confidence in You.


How to react when hope is deferred? What are our options? We can continue to wait on the Father and trust Him. Or we can become discouraged, despondent, deflated, and depressed.

Psalms 27:13-14

 13 Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

 14 Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

Psalm 27 is a psalm of confidence and courage. It starts with the question, “The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” It ends with, “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”

Every child of the King has the Father with them and in them (John 14:17), and each can say, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” “We can be calm and confident, courageous and brave. How? Because God gives us himself. And if we have him, we have no need to fear”(BKC).

David asserts his total confidence in the Father. This assurance is a core element of David’s faith And life. David knows the Father God. He knows what the Father has done for him. It all grows out of his personal relationship with Him. David could never get enough of the Father.

Psalms 27:4 The one thing I ask of the LORD– the thing I seek most– is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

What does David want? Knowing God Himself is David’s great ambition. Living in “the house of the LORD” (Psalms 27:4) is a picture of the children of the King enjoying the Father’s presence constantly.

“God himself is the greatest gift for which we could ask. He reveals his beauty in his generous goodness to his people. There is nothing better than he, bigger than he, greater than he, grander than he, more satisfying than he, more enjoyable than he, more dependable than he, more fun than he, more lasting than he, or more rewarding than God is himself. We would be fools to ask for anything less than God” (James A. Johnston).

When our hope is unrealized, put off, or drawn out, the natural result is disappointment (heart sickness). But when our hope is fulfilled. We are refreshed. The realization of hope fulfilled encourages us like a life-giving tree (BKC).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: