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Hope and Despair

Growing up I heard this verse maybe you did too? 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life

(Proverbs 13:12)

What exactly does this verse mean? I believe there is a lot of sickness going on in the hearts of people today. 

I think everyone would agree that the way we used to live has drastically changed since mid-March with the entrance of Covid-19. We went literally overnight from being free to go into stores, work, schools, jobs, etc. with the freedom to do what we needed to do to now being told we can not leave our homes unless for emergencies or to get gas, food, medical attention and so forth. Entering the grocery stores we found the shelves literally bare from the mad dash of people running to get supplies as fear gripped our country. The children were also thrown a curveball as they were now adapting to being schooled in their homes. No more seeing their friends, hanging out in the lunchroom, playing sports and so much more. Their world as they knew it ended too.

 Jobs were lost and people faced financial hardships trying to pay their rent, house payments, and keeping food on the table which many are still feeling the effects of. Masks are still required to be worn when entering a store. Our world has definitely been turned upside down. People are in a state of despair. Many feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath their feet. 

The high level of anxiety and hopelessness that people are facing has left them in a state of numbness. A sickness has entered into their soul. When the physical body is not well, the soul will not be either. Stress lowers our immune system which weakens our ability to fight off viruses. First the natural, then the spiritual. If our body is compromised our soul is too.

Sick means to be affected with disease or ill health, spiritually or morally unsound or corrupt [2].

How do we get our soul back to health? In scripture, we read.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

(3 John 1:2)

What do you think the Apostle John was meaning when he said that we may prosper?

Prosper means to become strong and to flourish, to succeed or thrive.

He was saying when our soul is not corrupted by unsound doctrine it is in good health. What is unsound doctrine? The false teachings of Jesus and not the true teachings that reveal a deeper understanding. It is likened to a seed. It has an outer shell (carnal understanding) but inside is the kernel (deeper understanding) which is likened to a morsel because it is truth and truth is good for the soul. 

There is joy in the heart and happiness in the soul as it seeks truth and not corruption. This produces hope within us as we seek to understand what Jesus is really saying to us. When our eyes are opened up a transformation starts to take place within us. A change is happening. Our soul is becoming healthy.

Early Church Father Origen shares in his writing from De Principiis Book 1-Ch 1, 

“All who believe and are assured that grace and truth were obtained through Jesus Christ, and who know Christ, and who know Christ to be the truth, agreeably to His own declaration,”

I am the truth, (John 14:6) derive the knowledge which incites men to a good and happy life from no other source than from the very words and teaching of Christ.

 To be well in our soul we need the very words and teachings of Jesus.. period. I would say the world today does not know where to find hope. They are too caught up in the affairs of this life. Looking at man’s wisdom to bring about a solution or fix the issues we face. Is anyone turning to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves? 

The world needs hope but do they truly know where to find it?  Let us look closer and see if we cannot get a deeper understanding of  Proverbs 13:12.

“Hope” means: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or to be true, and

“Deferred” means: withheld for or until a stated time [2].

Now, we will look at the same words in Hebrew. Why Hebrew? Hebrew is the language that Jesus spoke. He was a Jew and it is important that we get the right interpretation of the scriptures.

” Hope” in Hebrew is the word to-kheh’-leth which means expectation. It comes from the primitive root yaw-chal’ that is to wait, be patient, trust, be pained.

“Deferred” is maw-shak’ which means to draw, to sow, to sound, to prolong, develop, march, remove, delay, scatter, stretch out.

So, you can clearly see that there is a difference between English and Hebrew understanding.

Continuing on:

“heart” is feelings, will, and intellect. “Sick” to be weak, afflicted, be grieved, be wounded. “Desire” is a longing, a delight, to wish for. “Tree” is a carpenter, staff, make firm. “Life” means alive, revive, nourish [2].

Reading with a deeper understanding of Proverbs 13:12 we could read it like this: Expectation prolonged and stretched out makes our will and intellect to become afflicted, grieved, and wounded but when delight that is longed for has come forth from the teacher Jesus it revives and nourishes our soul which makes us alive in Him and we become that tree of life which will bear fruit.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

(Revelation 22:1-2)

Why are we compared to trees? 

Jesus says,

” I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.”

(John 15: 1-2, 5).

Jesus is saying we are to become like a tree, that branch that abides in Him, and that brings forth fruit. The twelve fruits of the Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control, Righteousness, Truth, and Praise. They are found in Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5;9, and Hebrews 13:15. 

These are the character and function of Jesus which the Holy Spirit wants to impart to us so we can become like Jesus and bring forth healing. When we possess these then we walk in joy, there is hope for us as we are being transformed. We delight in what is happening as we  become that hope of glory, Christ within us.

God [in His eternal plan] chose to make known to them how great for the gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you, the hope and guarantee of [realizing the] glory

(Colossians 1:27).

The verse that immediately follows falls right into the interpretation above: Whoever despises the word and counsel [of God] brings destruction upon himself, But he who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] will be rewarded (Proverbs 13:13).

Hallelujah, this is good news!

People today are in great need of hope. With the Covid-19 virus it seems as though fear, and separation are prevailing in our nation. The media cannot be believed as they have their own agenda and release what they want the people to hear and think..  Is there truly any news that isn’t fake or telling lies? If truth is released through a reputable source it isn’t mentioned. The agenda that is in the world today wants to keep people in fear, despair, and a place of no hope. In the chaos, you lose your focus. You are like the man in the verse who is unstable in all his ways?

 “…being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides]”

(James 1:8)

Why? You allowed the teachings of Jesus to be removed which would have given you hope or expectation.

Now that we’ve got a deeper understanding of hope and laid the foundation, let us dig out the deeper meaning of despair.

 We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but driven to despair 

( I Corinthians 4:8). 

Despair here means: utterly at loss; despond (state of low spirits), to lose hope or confidence [2].

When we fall into hopelessness we are at a loss. There is no confidence within ourselves to believe the word of the Lord because we are led by our carnal way of thinking and not by the Holy Spirit of the Father. When the Spirit of the Father does not lead you, that is when you fall into a state of despair, hopelessness, which brings sickness to the soul. Why? Your doctrine is corrupt.

Origen continues in De-Principiis Book 1-Ch 1 saying,

“Then, finally, that the Scriptures were written by the Spirit of God, and have a meaning, not such only as is apparent at first sight, but also another, which escapes the notice of most. For those (words) which are written are the forms of certain mysteries, and the images of divine things. Respecting which there is one opinion throughout the whole Church, that the whole law is indeed spiritual; but that the spiritual; meaning which the law conveys is not known to all, but to those only on whom the grace of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in the word of wisdom and knowledge. 

For us to come into hope we must have the right understanding of the words of Jesus.

 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

(Hebrews 4:12 ).

The word will pierce our soul and will penetrate our body exposing what is in our hearts. By changing our thoughts and actions and coming into alignment with the will of the Father we will walk in hope and not despair, we will have joy and not sadness, we will overcome and not be defeated, we will be healed in our soul and will walk in health and not death. 

The choice is ours.. hope or despair? What will you pick?


1. All scripture references are from the NKJV or AMP Bible versions.

2. Merriam- Webster Dictionary 

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