A Proverb that gets quoted a lot:

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

I get this. 2020 has been a year of deferred and broken hope. No graduation ceremonies; weddings a small semblance of original plans; no travel; cancelled vacations; eliminated church services.

A lot of hope deferred or cancelled altogether.

The American Psychiatric Association recently released a poll that totaled 36% of Americans listing the coronavirus as a serious impact on their mental health and that 59% of Americans believe it has negative results in their day-t0-day lives.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Two insights:

  1. I thought that church members would throng back to church meetings when the buildings reopened. This isn’t happening. Many reasons – some appropriate and some not.
  2. I realize that “hope” is a corporate endeavor that wins or loses by meeting together.

When you meet together, you want to meet together; when you don’t meet together, you don’t want to meet together. Let’s face it – there are a lot of reasons not to attend a church meeting, a connect group, or even a breakfast group with friends.

Hope is built and strengthened in groups. How many have had an idea and found encouragement to grow the vision through the encouragement of another person? It is difficult to maintain the hope to push through to success by yourself.

Hope is really about the future. Hope is tied to the optimism and help of others.  Without hope, without fellowship – we get sick.

I have heard many explain their reasons (before COVID) on why they were not going to attend church. I have never seen one case where this ended well spiritually. Hope is tied to the future, it combines with others, and is supernatural.

You can’t easily hope alone and without the power of God.

What kills hope in a church is not sin of the individual members but a lack of grace.   Those who stop meeting together, reason about the sins of the individual Christian or corporate body. I get it – lots of sin to focus upon!!!

God has already forgiven everyone who asks. He has extended grace. Those who leave meeting together walk away from extending grace to others and eventually stop receiving grace for themselves. Jesus says, “If you forgive you will be forgiven.”

Hope is a corporate matter. Grace is entwined in hope. Those who stay home will focus on their loss; hope dwindles, with no grace to lessen their burden.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Paul writes another verse about hope in Romans 5:5:

Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through His Spirit.