Today's Lectionary Text
Proverbs 13:12Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Hope is the oxygen of the soul. Without it our souls grow lifeless and conformed to present realities. In his book “The Inferno,” Dante describes a condition of hell with the words “abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
Today’s scripture proverb affirms that humans are created to hope; to look forward with longing desire for self, others and the world. Hope is an attitude, a belief, an assurance, a movement springing from one’s soul and informing one’s mind. And hope is always something “not yet” just outside our reach. As the poet Robert Browning writes “man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” Hope then is a commitment of the soul to future good, a future promise to be fulfilled, a future reality as yet unrealized. Without it we are trapped in the present as the only reality. Without it our soul constricts, our mind is unchallenged, and our spirits become stale. Without hope -- despair, depression and the idolatry of self grows.
During these difficult days we are living in, I’m thinking a lot about my hope. And what it means to have hope both as a noun and a verb. At the same time, I recognize how I’m tempted to lose hope as I see all the injustice, pandemic, division and self-centeredness our society is currently living with. Then I read this Proverb as words from a “spiritual physician” advising me to maintain my health and well-being by maintaining my hope. Because “a hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
Right now my “hope maintenance plan” means maintaining my daily spiritual disciplines, limiting the amount of my exposure to “daily news,” reading appropriate books on Hope, Racism, Leadership and History, spending even more time reading and reflecting on scriptures, and having regular conversations with colleagues on how it is my with soul. And I’m sure I will be adding new measures to my plan. How about you? What are you doing to maintain and deepen your hope? Remember “a hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
Here’s a toast to more worldwide health as we join the chorus of our sisters and brothers who have challenged us for centuries to “Keep Hope Alive.”
Clergy and Congregational Coach
Prayer for Reflection
O God, the source of all faith, hope and love. Work within our deepest selves these days as we seek to maintain our spiritual health and keep our hopes alive. Show us the way to do so. So be it. Amen.
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