An Adventure in Proverbs - Chapter 13 - the need for hope

"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man." Friedrich Nietzsche

I'd like to respectfully disagree with Mr. Nietzsche, and while I'm at it I'd like to flee with great haste his outlook on the world. I hold to the idea that hope is a valuable ally. Something to cling to and focus on in times of trouble or doubt. Today's proverb of choice speaks directly to this.

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

Have you ever had a hope extinguished? It is more than likely that you have. If that is the case you know how demoralizing it is when something you longed for, excitedly expected, and hungrily anticipated is snatched away. It's like a kick in the gut or more beautifully stated, "it makes the heart sick". The moment you realize that some great dream won't come to fruition or some long sought opportunity is gone is a taste ( or a big gulp) of despair. Sometimes that can send us into a tailspin and a pit of thought that begins to compound negativity. However, just because we begin to circle downward and hear voices that tell us there is no hope, that still doesn't mean those voices are true or that hope is lost.  

That's the great thing about hope is that just when it seems extinguished it often flickers back, sometimes when we least expect it. And when that hope blossoms into a raging fire and then ends with a "longing fulfilled" there is nothing more encouraging, satisfying and inspiring, and that of course leads to future hope, and helps ignite that flame years later when we once again face a "hope deferred". 

The Message version:

 "Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick,
    but a sudden good break can turn life around."




Hope is dangerous.


Hope is a wonderful thing. Hope gives some a way to visualize their dreams. Hope has started revolutions, raised nations from destruction, allowed athletes and armies to overcome insurmountable deficits. Hope has given some the will to live, when they were long overdue for death. Hope has helped untold thousands overcome what others thought was impossible. Hope is the breath of survival. Hope opens the door to the impossible. Hope is dangerous.


Hope also opens the door to disappointment. When we hope for something, really place our emotions into this thing we are hoping will come to pass we open the door to be crushed. Is there anything more shattering to our psyche than to have our hope snuffed. Hope breeds excitement, excitement breeds expectations, and expectations breed more hope. Hope can snowball like that, the more hope we have the more hope we get. Unfortunately the more hope we have, the deeper the disappointment if hope does not win out. To hope is to risk. To risk is to possibly suffer pain. The more hope, the more risk, potentially the more pain. How many times can we hope and fail before we give up all hope?


So what are we to do?


Snuff out all hope to avoid potential pain? The life without hope is the life of no passion, no dream, no....hope. Without hope there is no future to look forward to. Without hope all that matters is what has already happened and what is happening right now.


Some might choose the life of no hope, and thus face no risk. Real life chooses to hope, to risk, and to reap the disappointment or the joy from that risk. Hope in the Bible is coupled with faith and love. Faith and hope are very close cousins. But love seems more distant until you realize that love is what allows us to continue when hope is lost.