Solomon, full of wisdom, stated that ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life’ (Proverbs 13:12).This is precisely what it feels like when what you hope for, and long for, and yearn deeply for does not come to fruition. If hope is extinguished, it is like the light going out of your soul.
Maybe you’ve experienced a situation like this. Maybe it wasn’t divorce, but perhaps it was. Perhaps a fateful moment, leading to a split. Perhaps blindsided by an announcement you’d never seen coming. Perhaps a gut-renching realisation that you couldn’t go on.
Thousands of years before, Job, losing all he had – family, wealth, health – cries a similar sentiment.
“If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas— no wonder my words have been impetuous.
What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” (Job 6:2-3, 11)
That heaviness of anguish and misery is not unknown to me, and perhaps not to you.
But regardless of circumstances, from deep inside, somewhere, you begin to hope.
Hope is hard. It grows out of a desire that you have no control over. You can be active in pursuing the goal, you can keep doors open and options on the table, pushing at different doors to see if they’re open to you. Yet hope seems to stem from that inability to really do what it is you’re wanting. You can’t lay hold of what your heart desires; instead you hope.
It is exhausting and all consuming. It is waiting and wondering. It is running towards a dream while a potential reality is chained to your wrist. I can recall the weight of it with me, for a year and a half. Hope, whether realistic or dreaming of the improbable, was my watchword. It was the centre of my thoughts, the barrier around my soul. It kept me together. The tiny flickers of hope about my marriage, my job, my future.
Because hope is that flicker, the keeping alive of dreams and the thought so sacred it can sometimes not even be uttered.
It embodied my waking thoughts, my dreams, and all my subconscious ideas. Occasionally hope would be fulfilled and I would blossom like that tree of life. More often it would be crushed underfoot.
Hope helped me continue when all seemed lost. Hope allowed me to dream and glimpse a light from beneath a canopy so dark it seemed impenetrable.
Divorce extinguished hope. Because where was hope to be found?
I felt I had nothing left. This wasn’t strictly true, but everything I had held dear was gone. My flickering hopes felt doused in a flood and deluge of tears.
It was bitter, I was heartsick. Never, I felt, would I recover fully from this.
But as a ship, anchored in the sea, buffeted by waves and storms so powerful that destruction seems almost certain, we have an anchor. And in the midst of the roughest sea and most turbulent waters, the anchor held firm. Yet as the waters slowly and eventually stilled, the muddiness cleared and the murkiness vanished, and so the anchor reemerged.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)
I will never forget that storm, that hope, that trust in the anchor. I will never forget the anguish, the weight, the incessance, the wondering if calm would ever come.
My hopes emerged, obliterated into driftwood like a unanchored boat amidst the rocks and the storm. My heart was sickened and battered and broken. Yet I had hope…that I’d somehow emerged better, wiser, more aware of the storms. That I’d somehow battled them, the hope that if I’d survived that, somehow I would survive what was next. My anchor was strong, my hope made new as the horizon cleared. It was different; a vista I’d never seen before – but somewhere there was a new sunrise, a new light, and new hope.
Because hope, even when we’ve been swept over by waves countless times, hope springs up and emerges anew. And it is this moment, when you realise that hope has once again grown through the crevice of a broken heart without you noticing, that hope brings its optimism and possibility back to your life, and gives you the chance to dream again.
Divorce…extinguisher of old hope and the bringer of new.
“…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)