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Bones of Character – Part 3 of 3

(9:30am) Thursday, 12/22/11

Christmas is nearly here.  Another full year has nearly gone by.  And, as always, You’ve done so much.  I’m thinking againt about the bones of character this morning and I can’t help but wonder – is my faith dry?  Is my hope dry?

A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken (afflicted) spirit dries the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

‘Make me to hear joy and gladness’ this morning.
Psalm 51:8

Joy: oil of gladness, used of the ointments which they used at banquets.

As I read the words, tears fall down my cheeks.  Because You are so faithful to continually repeat the same phrases over and over … and I’m almost ashamed that I haven’t learned the lesson yet.  This oil of gladness theme has come up for over a year … and still … I have to be reminded.  And every time, it’s a struggle to trade out my mourning for Your oil of joy.  Every time I’m faced with the idea of trading in my hope of a family for joy, I fight it.  Because somehow, my hope has become my mourning.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick (literally ‘to grieve’), but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

After all these years, I seem to have skipped over the hope deffered part and just associated hope with grieving.  LORD, help me to separate the two.

Deferred hope is drawn out and postponed, and as I dig deeper into the Hebrew definition of the word, the tears come again.  Because what I see as weakness (waiting … longing for … hoping for years), You see as strength.

Another translation for ‘deferred hope’: tall; a strong people.

Nothing is more grievous than the disappointment of a raised expectation; though not in the thing itself by a denial, yet in the time of it by a delay … the more high the expectation was raised the more cutting is the frustration of it … what we do hope for, let us prepare to be disappointed in that, if it should prove so, it may prove the easier.
Matthew Henry on Proverbs 13:12

The hope of the righteous shall be gladness (as at joyful banquets).
Proverbs 10:28

… he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast (regardless of circumstances).
Proverbs 15:15, amplified version

And then I circle back again to Proverbs 17:22.  A merry heart does good like medicine (and a cheerful mind works healing), but a broken spirit dries the bones (amplified version).  My mind is swimming with truth and the perfectionist type-A in me wants to organize it all into something succinct and coherent.  But I know I just need to pray it through.  Isn’t that always how it goes?

Father God, I pray You would pour Your oil of joy onto the drying bones of my hope.  And don’t just pour it on, massage it in.  Rub the oil of joy and gladness into the driest parts of my faith.  And as You do that, I pray my heart would begin to relax.  And be merry again.  I don’t want my hope to my be mourning any longer.  LORD show me how to separate the two.  As we celebrate in the birth of Your Son this weekend, LORD, may I not sorrow in what You are holding back, but rejoice in what You have given.  Salvation.  Forgiveness.  Grace.  Hope.  You’ve given hope as a gift, and somehow Satan has used it as a weapon against me.  LORD, may that no longer be the case.  Help me to turn it around.

Breathe new life into these dry bones.