Between The Ups And Downs

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

The Symetra Tour is known as the Road to the LPGA. It’s an exhausting and expensive road. And a road filled with high hopes and deep desires to capture one of the 10 coveted LPGA Tour exemptions when the season comes to an end. While each season 10 players experience women’s professional golf’s version of a tree of life (conditional happiness), more than 150 others will suffer hope deferred.

Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran player, there is nothing easy about making your way onto the LPGA Tour. Once a Tour card has been acquired, it is still a fight to retain it. There are no guarantees when your hopes and desires are determined solely by the amount of money earned (or not earned). Making life work on tour is full of ups and downs, and mostly down than up because there is more failure in golf than success.

Life off the course is a perpetual motion of ups and downs as well. We try to separate the two by clinging to the good and denying anything hard; but life is not black and white. The ups and downs commingle, often leaving our hearts waiting in uncomfortable space between hope being deferred and desire fulfilled.

Our Western mindset tends to believe hope deferred or desire fulfilled—one or the other, but not both. The original Hebrew text doesn’t use the word but, rather language that connects hope and desire with the word and. This changes the feel of the passage. Hope deferred will happen; it will make the heart sick. And, when the desire of our hope does come to pass (maybe not the way we wanted), it is a tree of life.

The context of hope in this Hebrew proverb is associated with the prosperity of the righteous and seen as the spring from which the desire for life flows. Māšak, translated as deferred, describes drawing out a period of time or a delay of time, not necessarily something that will never happen. Desire, when realized, invigorates a person.

The phrase “tree of life” is first brought to our attention in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9) and last referenced in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22:14,19). One commentator suggests that the tree of life was in the center of the garden to keep man habitually in mind of God and futurity. For us today, the tree of life is Jesus, and when we choose to believe in and fix our eyes on him, he impregnates the ups and downs of life with joy.

Hope is the spring from which our desire for life flows. The only guarantee we have as our hopes and desires commingle through the ups and downs of life is that Jesus, the tree of life, is with us.

Tracy Hanson
October 10, 2019
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