Proverbs Hope Deferred – 6 Bible Verses About Hope Deferred

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

When someone says, “I have good news and bad news,” which one do you want to hear first? I usually vote for the bad news, thinking it’s better to get it over with and end on a happier note. You could also make a solid case for starting with the good news so you can have a positive mind-set for whatever follows.

In this proverb the hard truth comes first.

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Hope deferred . . . Proverbs 13:12

It’s been a difficult season for many people you and I know. Hope is in short supply when job hunts lead nowhere and health challenges aren’t improving and family issues won’t go away. Our Lord Jesus understands what “unrelenting disappointment” (MSG) feels like. He knows that “not getting what you want” (CEV) is frustrating and discouraging. He realizes that when hope is “postponed” (VOICE), “prolonged” (YLT), or “put off” (NIRV), we need something to hang on to.

Something bigger than hope.

Something deeper than desire.

Something immovable. Something sure.

That’s why the Lord wants us to hang on to Him. He’s waiting for the moment we come to the end of ourselves, our plans, our dreams and at last begin to realize that our hope is found only in Him. “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5, NIV) Yes.

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We can put our hope in God’s spoken, written, printed Word and all the wisdom, promises, and truth it contains. We can put our hope in God’s character and the ways He reveals it through what He has already said and what He has already done. We can put our hope in God’s Son, His living Word.


A friend clung to this verse from Proverbs while waiting for an adoption to be finalized, a process that took four long years. Not weeks. Not months. Years. Yet she knew she wasn’t waiting alone. God was with her, and His Word was with her. This proverb in particular sustained her during the shadowy days and strengthened her when nothing seemed certain.

Even with God beside us, waiting can still be hard.

. . . makes the heart sick, . . . Proverbs 13:12

“When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed” (GNT), so much so it not only “makes you sad” (ERV), but it can also “make you feel sick” (CEV). We moan inwardly or cry outwardly as the psalmist did: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:5, NIV) Disappointment “grieves the heart” (VOICE) and “tormenteth the soul” (WYC). Those who’ve experienced that level of emotional and spiritual pain know how the body often suffers too. Head throbbing. Stomach twisting. Muscles aching.

Heartsickness is real. So is the remedy, as the psalmist concludes: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, NIV) Yet means it’s never too late to praise Him. This very minute our praise can begin to rise from our lips and ascend to the heavens. Praise Him in the midst of the heartache, the psalmist urges us. When hope is waning, trust Him as your one true Source of hope.

. . . but a longing fulfilled . . . Proverbs 13:12

Call it a “wish” (CEV), a “dream” (NLT), or a “desire” (ASV), but when it “comes into being” (NLV), gladness floods our soul and healing fills our bones. How did I ever doubt? we ask ourselves, unable to keep from smiling and shaking our heads in wonder.

We doubt because we are human. We believe because He is divine.

To move from doubt to belief requires a leap of faith, which often looks less like leaping and more like waiting, praying, and trusting, as these verses from Psalms teach us:

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14, NIV)

“Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.” (Psalm 102:1, NIV)

“Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” (Psalm 84:12, NIV)

Oh, the fruit of that waiting, praying, and trusting!

. . . is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

When we hang on to hope and don’t lose heart, God will produce in us a whole tree bearing vital food for our souls. Hope grows in a heart made fertile by God’s Word, refreshed by His living water, and warmed by the light of His love every season of the year. As Pope Francis said in his 2017 TED Talk, “Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree.”

When our prayers are answered and our needs are met, it’s “like eating fruit from the tree of life” (NCV). All at once “life is full and sweet” (VOICE), and we find ourselves back on our feet. The Hebrew phrase for this “tree of life” is the same one we find in Genesis 2:9 describing a unique tree in the middle of Eden’s garden. Here in Proverbs the meaning expands to include a full life—mental and emotional, moral and spiritual—that lasts forever.

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Liz Curtis Higgs has one goal: to help women embrace the grace of God with joy and abandon. Her messages are biblical, encouraging, down-to-earth, and profoundly funny, helping sisters and seekers experience the depth of God’s love. She’s the author of more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print. Her most recent books are The Women of Easter, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, and 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path, from which the above excerpt was taken. Visit her at

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