Posted by: deerharas | August 11, 2010

This blog has been brought to you today by the letters H, O, P, & E.

Have you ever felt haunted by a word?  Maybe haunted isn’t the right term … pursued, perhaps?  Some of you might remember the closing credits of Sesame Street in which an announcer announces (imagine that) the letters and numbers that had “brought” that day’s episode.  Each sketch somehow features these numbers and letters.  Count counts to seven.  Bert and Ernie list everything in their house that starts with “p.”  You get the idea.

Well, if my last few days were an episode of Sesame Street, the recurring theme would be the word “hope.”  I am in a season of waiting.  And for a person who’s oftentimes all about instant gratification, waiting is not fun.  At all.  Tom Petty sure got it right … the waiting IS the hardest part.  Actually, I would argue that disappointment after a period of waiting is even harder.  The past few months have been filled with untold amounts of stress as I have sought to discern what’s next.  Next year, next month, next week, next day.  It’s certainly not a comfortable place.  Especially when possibilities emerge and hopes rise only to have them dashed.

And there’s that word.  Hope.  A few days ago I was reminded of a verse in the Psalms concerning hope.  A friend shared it with me last summer in relation to one of my crazy crushes.  Newly single herself, she exhorted me with Psalm 39:7 … “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.” I’ve come back to that one several times since then, occasionally with a guy in mind although it speaks to so much more than that.  It speaks to my tendency to put stock in very transient things.  The prophet Samuel urges the Israelites to “not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty” (1 Sam 12:21).  They had put their hope in a king rather than Yahweh, the true king, the only one worthy of hope.

The same day I remembered Psalm 39, hope popped up again in an unexpected place.  I was looking up a verse someone had half quoted to me in the context of a conversation on suffering.  “Though he slay me …”  His point was to say that no matter what befalls us, God’s glorification is paramount.  Yes, God is good to his children, but true love for God is demonstrated in our preference for him even when we don’t feel his goodness.  Though he slay me, I will endure?  I will still love him?  I will what?  I went on a hunt for this elusive apodosis.  It turns out that the verse reads, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15a).  Job proclaims in the midst of his extreme suffering that no matter what the circumstance, his hope was in the Lord.

Yesterday in the midst of a significant disappointment, another hope verse came to mind.  Proverbs 13:12 muses that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Um, duh.  I definitely was feeling the heart sickness.  My hope had been deferred.  And while I think expressing grief and mourning is natural and even good, this experience of disappointment prompted some introspection.  Perhaps had I invested my hope in God and not this particular possibility, I wouldn’t be facing the same heart sickness.  Because a hope in the Lord does not disappoint.  It may not turn out as I would prefer, but what else in the entire world is worthy of hope?

This morning as I was remembering a particularly difficult circumstance the Lord graciously brought me through a few years ago, an old school David Crowder lyric intruded upon my thoughts.  “Be all my hopes, be all my dreams, be all my delights, be my everything.” Yes, Lord.  Because a hope in the Lord is never deferred.  And delighting in him brings life.  For what do I wait?  My hope is in him.  Though he slay me, I will hope in him.  Be all my hopes.

I suppose of all the words to haunt me, hope is a pretty good one.

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