The hope of the righteous brings joy,
but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Earlier this summer I described what anxiety and hope feel like to me to an artist friend of mine. A month ago she came to me with this painting. I am still amazed at how she beautifully captured on the canvas with her brush and paints my words about anxiety and hope.
When I feel anxious I feel like I am trying to hold a beach ball under water. I know it is physically impossible to continue to keep it under water because eventually gravity pushes it up. But I have noticed I can become so accustomed to trying to hold the ball of anxiety under water that I become paralyzed.
Anxiety takes all my strength and energy and time. I avoid conversations that would resolve a conflict. I don’t try to change that little habit that would help me live the righteous life God desires for me. As long as I keep trying to hold the ball under water, my life is ruled by anxiety rather than my hope in Christ.
But when I finally take my hands off the ball, the anxiety emerges from the depths of darkness and I see what I’ve been anxious about in God’s light. And God’s light always outshines the darkness and makes my heart hopeful. Instead of being flooded with despair, I am sprinkled with splashes of hope…like a refreshing summer rain…like the cleansing water of baptism…a sign and seal of my covenant relationship with God.
This work of art depicts what happens when hope is no longer deferred when anxiety no longer weighs the heart down and when the hope of the righteous springs forth in joy.
May you and I live wisely as the Proverbs remind us by rejoicing in hope each new day.