“She is responding, beat up and hurting, deserving death, but offerings of life instead” Shane & Shane “Acres of Hope”
About a year ago, this song shuffled on my phone, I had never heard it before. The lyrics of this song stopped me in my tracks, as countless times I have put this song on repeat as Shane and Shane chronicle the story of the prostitute who has been an outcast, put out into the wilderness, and left alone to deal with the consequences of her behavior. But, the Lord speaks to her and brings her back to the “Door of Hope”. He pursues her; He forgives her; He gives her Hope
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”
Everything inside of me wants to rail against this verse, because, at the moment, I don’t understand it. “Hope deferred” seems like an oxymoron, as the very definition of “hope” is that “something better is coming, or is waiting for me”
Am I wrong?
By definition, “hope” seems to always be deferred. The act of waiting for something better is both good and bad; it can get us through the darkest of days, but that forward looking can also make us miss today. I have missed a lot of “todays” waiting for “better days” and as those words land on the page, I am deeply saddened by all that I have missed looking forward to what will be.
Because most of my life has been spent in survival mode, I can honestly say that the only “hope” I look forward to is that day when there will be no more sadness, no more tears, no more pain—I am not sure that I can imagine a life without pain. That being said, I am living a life that is profoundly more abundant than I could imagine, so this idea of “hope” is one that I look forward to exploring.
What is the “door of Hope”, what does that even mean? The story outlined in Hosea is a beautiful one, it is messy, it’s painful, and it’s not different from our own. The thought of God pursuing me is a crazy one, and it makes me wonder, if He is chasing me, and I respond, is that the longing fulfilled with the tree of life is “like” the tree of life?
Fewer emotions will make an impact like disappointment. Is “hope deferred” the things that disappoint us? The dreams that are not fulfilled, the things we don’t have, or the things that we do? What is the proper response to disappointment? Can we understand that disappointment is temporary but that Hope is forever? Would we be disappointed less often if we turned around and waited for Him to catch us in His pursuit of us?
“He will allure her, he will pursue her, call her out to wilderness with flowers in His hand”
Turn around, look, is He there? Are you like me and you are so focused on “better days” that we forget that He is right THERE?
“Here in the valley, walk close beside me, don’t look back, for Love is growing in vineyards just ahead”
Perhaps the greatest form of our faith is turning around and living with the Hope that is right there, all the time, He promised to never leave us or forsake us. He encourages us by asking us “what can separate us from the love of God?” while we may not deserve the bad things that come our way, the reality is we are not super worthy of anything good either. That being said, we were given a huge gift that was sealed when Jesus took the price for our sin on the cross. But that isn’t all! Our Hope is walking right beside us; it is not deferred. And for that reason, my heart doesn’t need to be sick, Hope is right here, right now. I am looking forward to exploring this concept of Hope and how it is not as elusive as we think. It feels elusive, but it isn’t.
And that is the greatest news, ever.