Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 11, 2021 

Shabbat Shalom,

Hope 25: Confronting Delayed Hope by David Harwood 

We are in a conflict. It is important to guard and strengthen our Hope. We need to persevere. One aspect of this war is the fight to maintain our original conviction while observable reality militates against it. This can go on for a long time. 

Here’s a warning: in this protracted war, it is possible to get worn out. The biblical description of this reality is found in the term “Hope deferred”. 

Hope Deferred

Most have been waiting for specific answers to prayer for a long time. The Bible teaches that hope deferred can make the heart sick. You know your heart is sick when you’ve given up your expectations and settled for something less than what you’ve been promised.

Before we look at this in a bit more depth, let’s emphasize the positive. As you read these meditations, as you seek to embrace and act upon truth, we can expect the strength of our Hope to increase. We’re persistently shining scriptural light upon the nature of biblical Hope. This will edify. This will strengthen you. 

Through doing this we can also expose and destroy the effects of deferred Hope. The seemingly interminable delays of what we expect can wear us down. Proverbs 13:12 speaks to this.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 12:12 TLV)

What is Deferred Hope? It is Hope that is dragged out over a long time. Hope is deferred when the expected answer has not come; it seems stymied, interrupted, or aborted. The prolonged delay may cause questions like these:

Why hasn’t my answer come?

Will it ever happen?

What am I doing wrong?

Is God against me?

Should I give up?

The Hebrew word translated sick can refer to general weakness, or exhaustion. It can also describe a degenerative disease, or an illness leading to death … or anything in-between. The translation is good. It means sick. 

Vibrant Hope is a sign of a healthy soul. This Hope is related to joy and peace. Hope deferred can be the result, and a cause, of emotional exhaustion. Heart sickness is seen in disappointment, discouragement, despair, and depression. People can give up on what they Hoped for. People can give up on life. 

In ministry this is often described as burnout. 

Here’s what it may feel like.

My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle and come to an end without hope. (Job 7:6 TLV)

If you’re self-aware you may recognize when your Hope is getting weaker. Unless action is taken to halt and reverse that trend your heart may become seriously ill. It is easiest to halt and reverse this process when worry is at its weakest.

Your Hope is like your immune system. Sometimes when I’m coming down with a cold I will use vitamins to halt its progress. I may take some extra rest. These things help restore my health. 

It is possible to renew one’s Hope even in the middle of fully developed despair. Confronting, questioning, and exhorting our own souls is a biblical practice. Here’s an example:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you murmuring within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, for the salvation of His presence. (Psalm 42:5 TLV)

Sometimes we need to confront our souls. We can tend to baby ourselves and pamper encroaching discouragement. Here is an oracle that defies despair.

God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind! Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19 TLV) 

What a prophecy! Dare we maintain our Hope? What a wholesome challenge.

Disappointment can also be caused by misunderstanding God’s timing. We might think that what we’ve anticipated should have already happened and, since it hasn’t, it won’t. Unless something irrevocable transpired that makes the Hope-expectation utterly impossible we need to reconsider the rationale of our discouragement. It is often the case that the answer is still on the way. 

For the vision is yet for an appointed time. It hastens to the end and will not fail. If it should be slow in coming, wait for it, For it will surely come—it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3 TLV)

It’s ironic, but sometimes our hearts can get so used to disappointment that we do not recognize the time of our visitation. (Luke 19:44) We may misunderstand what God’s answers look like. The strength of our desires can distort what He actually promised. Such confusion and despair are not God’s will. 

Adonai wants our Hope to be vibrant. He will use His counsel, empowered by His Ruach, to break the hold of heart-sickness caused by “Hope deferred.”  

This is the testimony of someone who received renewed strength from Adonai.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3 TLV)  

Meditate on the Scriptures. The record of His activity, and the direction proceeding from His precepts. will renew the health of your heart’s Hope.

The Torah of Adonai is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of Adonai is trustworthy, making the simple wise. (Psalm 19:8 TLV) 

Essentially I’m referring you again to the two keys found in Romans 15:4,13. Now, on to a related topic.

Problems from the Past

Some succumb to discouragement more easily than others. A reason for that may be found in our individual stories. Our attitudes are not just formed from our recent experience. Things have occurred to each of us that strengthen, or debilitate, our souls, and everyone has a history of significant disappointments.

You might not know why your heart is prone to hopelessness, but God knows, and as He is asked, He will help you. We need to be on guard because, when hope is deferred, there can be a malevolent spirit that maliciously exploits the long-term disappointment and seeks to exercise aspects of control. 

God is merciful and may expose matters from our past that have weakened our capacity to Hope. Adonai-Tzva’ot is a liberator. He wants to free us. 

Be intentional. If when you are reading these meditations you find a place in your soul which is desperately disappointed pay attention, pray about it, share it with a confidante, journal the thought. Biblical truth applied by the Ruach ha-Kodesh can break that influence off your life. God’s promises are reliable. You have been promised a future and a hope.

Genesis 15 records a time when Adonai entered into covenant to confirm promises He made to Abram. In the middle of the ceremony a defiling influence sought to exert itself. It is written: 

Then birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:11 TLV) 

Most of the time you will have the strength to disperse demonic assaults upon promises you’ve received. Your Hope will be resilient. You can drive away “the birds of prey”. 

However, we are not called to be isolated and fight this fight alone. We’ve been warned, and exhorted, to watch over the state of one another’s hearts. Here is some context of that warning.

Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil heart of unbelief that falls away from the living God. 13But encourage one another day by day—as long as it is called “Today”—so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partners of Messiah, if we hold our original conviction firm until the end. 15As it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:12–15 TLV) 

There may be times when we need help. We might require consistent encouragement from others to hold on to Hope. If that’s you, confide in a friend and ask them to stand with you as you purposely wait on Him and renew your strength.

On the other hand, you may know someone who is afflicted with discouragement. If you do, please take initiative. Inquire about the wellbeing of your friend’s soul. You may have a specific anointed word that sets their heart on the road to recovery.

Here’s an oracle worth reviewing.

Adonai Elohim has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning. He awakens My ear to give heed as a disciple. (Isaiah 50:4 TLV) 

Yeshua the Encourager lives in you. He will help you encourage the weary. He is the healer of the heartsick soul and His desire is that you would be with Him in that ministry.

Please receive this blessing: 

May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you, believing Him, trust His word and overflow with Hope by His Spirit’s power. 

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 11-Dec-2021 7th of Tevet, 5782 Parashat Vayigash

Ge 47:11-27 Ez 37:15-28 Ac 3:11-26