There’s nothing more torturous, yet more necessary, than hope.
There is nothing more satisfying than a realized hope, and there’s nothing more sickening than having your hopes dashed. Truly, the words Proverbs 13:12 resonate with our experience: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
We can’t help but hope. We hope for better days, for fulfilled dreams, for restored relationships, for financial security, for personal happiness. We tell ourselves the risk is worth the reward, we plug our ears when the pessimists call our hopes “wishful thinking” and we guard vigilantly against any threat to our hopes.
It seemed like such an odd detail. In a list praising Abraham for being willing to sacrifice his son, Moses for giving up a life of luxurious living, and Noah for building a boat and saving all of humanity, the statement about Jacob really stood out to me. “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). I was preaching through Hebrews 11 when I first paid attention to that verse and was confused by the statement. What in the world did leaning on a staff have to do with faith?
When my husband and I got engaged, two particular sentiments dominated the congratulatory discussions - the “Oh, you’re going to love marriage, it’s so wonderful. Such a blessing” comments, and there were also the “Get ready. It’s not as easy as it seems” comments.
As we’re rounding the corner of eighteen months and wrapping up our newlywed status, I’ve found that both are true (at least so far). Marriage has been so, so sweet! It does also take work, but not because my husband is difficult – because I am. Thankfully, the Bible has plenty to say regarding our sinful tendencies as newlywed wives, and how to turn those into opportunities to grow. These pithy nuggets of practical wisdom in Proverbs have been a great help to me and can help us shape us into “excellent wives” who are “crowns” to our husbands rather than “rottenness to [their] bones” (Proverbs 12:4).
One of the chairs will be empty around the table for many this Christmas season. A wife will celebrate the holidays without her husband for the first time. A son will read Luke 2 without mom sitting there alongside him. There will be those not-so-distant memories of a friend’s voice we still cherish, whose quietness now speaks louder than his conversations used to. Those who were near to our hearts will be conspicuously absent. And when the cold, empty seat takes the place of that person we love, we feel the weight of their absence profoundly.
Whether it’s your overwhelming responsibilities, family pressures, or uncertainty about your future, desperate moments leave you feeling hopeless and helpless—drowning in a sea of anxiety. All you want to do is escape, and you’re on the verge of doing something crazy to get out.
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