Ice and snow rang in the new year. If it is not the virus, it is the weather that keeps me close to home. So many dreams and plans put off during the pandemic. And we are not through with the COVID pandemic with millions of people to still be vaccinated. Maybe it was a job change, retirement, wedding, or a dream vacation deferred. Birthday and holiday celebrations with family and friends altered. Or not being able to be with a loved one while they were sick, or worse while they died. Lingering side effects from the virus? I have not had COVID but my heart was sick some days. How about yours? Many times we cannot understand God’s ways, or the ways of this world. The wait, why?
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, the old proverb tell us. There is the other half of that proverb which says “but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 ESV). Studying closer this verse in Proverbs, here is a commentary from the 1600’s English nonconformist theologian, Matthew Poole: “Hope deferred; delays in obtaining that good which a man passionately desireth and hopeth for. The desire; the good desired and expected; acts being oft put for the objects, It is a tree of life; it is most sweet, and satisfactory, and reviving.“ Comparing Proverbs 13:12 to other scriptures, Proverbs 3:18 the “tree of life” connects wisdom and happiness. The NLT version says, “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
Despite this dreary, wintry start, I still welcome the New Year like the finches outside on the feeders. Each waits a turn at the feeder. I embrace the hope and wisdom of a better year in 2021. What is the good you desire? Dig deep using the gift of wisdom God instilled in you. Discern and know God has made you sufficient for such a time as this. Those deep roots have the tree of life for you. Happiness will be life to you when you hold onto the hope and the wisdom.
In 1944 and 1945 during the World War II, U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick A. McDonald walked where the places of worship once stood. Shards of stained glass scattered the streets. He sent selected pieces to his home in Seattle while the war was coming to an end. He did know the intent other than to preserve what he witnessed while serving as a chaplain. Years later he and a colleague commissioned artist to use the shards of glass for what would become masterpieces of art. The exhibit is owned by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. “The exhibition is a metaphor for what division breeds — and for what happens when people set aside differences and try to build something out of the broken pieces,” quoting Indra Neelameggham, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.
Life has no guarantees, no refunds. Conflict, poor health, toxic relationships, lost jobs. Or worse yet; war, a painful death, domestic abuse, and becoming homeless. These real struggles plague our lives either for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. Like the sharpness of broken glass pieces, sometimes life feels like your heart is cut out while the pumping blood spews.
For a few weeks the church next door shared this message on their marquee sign, “Broken things become blessed things if you let God do the mending.” Do you believe that message? If not, it is a walk of faith for those broken things to become blessed things. Faith in our God, not in our own abilities or those of others. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5.
The melancholy mood I have been in these past days can be for several reasons. Autumn is bittersweet. “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” writes Emily Bronte. I should be counting my blessings with every leaf I see fall. The cooler breeze and vibrant colored leaves are so pleasant, but at the same time a reminder that winter is close behind. The autumn season has held the celebrations of multiple birthdays. My mother’s 80th this year, cause for a party she is still with us. But I lost my father and grandfather both during the month of October. “I Still Miss Someone” a song sung by Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe written by Carl Perkins speaks what I feel today, this overcast autumn day. Missing Dad and Grandpa. Missing the love I saw in Mom and Dad. Despite their differences, they stayed together.
At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind has come
Sweethearts walk by together
And I still miss someone …