Hope When Hope is Deferred

This is your reminder that we are fasting and praying during what would be Monday lunch for 1) marriage for those who are designed for it, 2) the courage for men to walk upright and into marriage, and 3) the courage for women to see where we need to change and to change.  And as you pray, you might consider these words from our guest writer, Joanne.  She’s been subscribing to the blog for a while, but this week she’s writing for us.


He was 40 years old, and finally, the moment he’d waited for his entire life had come. He could picture the life ahead in that beautiful, spacious land, a place of fruitfulness and joy.  But due to circumstances beyond his control—the sin of others, in this case—Caleb’s moment passed, thrusting him back into the wilderness he thought he was leaving.

Caleb lived his whole life as a slave. Then came Moses, who led his nation out of Egypt accompanied by so many miracles that Caleb couldn’t help but anticipate the future. When the moment came to spy out the Promised Land, he was ready to take it.

His comrades, with the exception of Joshua, were not. They refused to believe that they could conquer and receive what God had promised them. As a result, the entire generation would wander in the wilderness for another 40 years.

Talk about hope deferred. How did Caleb survive?

His story is a timely one for me as I write just weeks before my fortieth birthday. I can’t imagine Caleb’s life of slavery, but I can identify with reaching one’s fortieth year—the zenith of life, perhaps—and facing deep disappointment that what you waited for your whole life has not yet happened.

For me—as for many of you—those dreams include marriage and motherhood, plus a few other things. Like Caleb, I feel as if my circumstances are beyond my control.

But God didn’t forget Caleb. Right at his moment of disappointment, he received a new promise. While his faithless peers were promised death in the wilderness, Caleb was assured that he would one day inherit the land he had seen (Numbers 14:20-30).

It was a promise of God’s goodness and faithfulness, no matter what generational disobedience surrounded him. Although God’s intended purpose seemed to be thwarted for Caleb, it wasn’t. A day of redemption was coming.

I believe that’s a promise for the many fortyish—as well as twentyish or thirtyish—unmarried women who love God as Caleb did. I have no idea how many more years of singleness you or I may face. I don’t know what God’s plan for motherhood may look like for us. But what I know, as Caleb knew, is that God’s good purpose for us has not been thwarted, despite whatever societal sins and philosophies have hindered marriage. We have not been, will not be, overlooked by our Father.

Caleb was 85 when he finally arrived in the Promised Land. Yet, he said, “As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in” (Joshua 14:11).

Caleb reminds me to steward well the season of delay, meeting God’s provision with thanksgiving instead of complaining, believing in God’s goodness instead of doubting it. Caleb fought for his inheritance all those years by living in faith, marrying, having children—rejoicing fully in what God had for him at that time, yet never losing sight that greater things were coming.

Because Caleb believed his future was worth fighting for, so was his present. When the future arrived, he was not disappointed. Redemption flourished in his aged body, and with a vigor and faith greater than that of the others, he rushed forward to receive his promise—no resentment, no regrets.

As we continue to contend for our futures through fasting and prayer, let’s fight for greater hope and vitality today; this way, we will be fully prepared when it’s our day to enter into God-given, new relational territory.

Joanne Chantelau lives in Franklin, TN, where her favorite writing times take place in front of a sunny window, with a cup of tea. You can read more of her work at www.joannechantelau.com.

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24 Responses to Hope When Hope is Deferred

  1. Adenike says:

    Thanks for your deep words of encouragement. In my late twenties and trusting and praising Him through every phase of my life. THANK YOU

  2. Thank you Joanne for the hope you give to me through this article. The story of Caleb and living his life fully and in faith for the future is a wonderful message for myself and most likely many other Christian women. It is to easy to have regrets and let go of that true faith that Jesus hears our prayers and is looking out for us. He does have a plan for our lives ” to give us a hope and a future. True believers desire His will yet we are human created with human desires. Your message tells me to trust in Jesys, walk jn His faith and peace and draw closer in prayer believing many are not yet answered or fulfilled. Thank you for the God centered encouragement and hope. . . In Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, Janet

  3. Jen says:

    WOW. Thank you for this – I am immensely encouraged and truly feel spoke to me! I’ve been feeling exceedingly unhopeful :(.

  4. Pingback: Praying with Rejoicing | Joanne Chantelau

  5. Sharon Lurie says:

    Good stuff, Soul Sister! I have been meditating on the whole deferrment of hope. This was a good reminder of how to faithfully manage those delays. You’ve been a good example to me and truly have been a sister-in-arms, too. You are the Joshua to my Caleb! *wink*

  6. Linda says:

    Your heart and soul hit the mark! An encouraging thought for all of us at any age in any state.

  7. amy says:

    This was a wonderful encouragement today. Thank you!

  8. Ramona says:

    I love it! I turned 40 this year and it was a bit hard facing the fact that my life doesn’t look like what I thought it would. There IS a lot of good in my life though, and certain advantages to being single. I’m trying to stay grateful and hopeful. I appreciate the encouragement I get from this blog.

  9. Oliver says:

    Such wise & timely & encouraging words. Thank you!

  10. Kristy says:

    “We have not been, will not be, overlooked by our Father.” – I think I’m rather plagued by this fear – that God has overlooked, that He has somehow forgot. Theologically I know it’s an impossibility, but still…I feel the fear. Thanks for the reminder that it’s just not so.

    • Joanne Chantelau says:

      Kristy, I’m glad this was a timely reminder of the truth and pray God will continue to show You His heart for you.

  11. Holly says:

    Thank you Joanne! This reflection gave my prayer time a needed focus. It uplifted my heart and strengthened my spirit for this season. I’ve connected to the book of Numbers (my own grumblings &feelings of being left in a desert as I approach 40) before- but never realized the whole story of Caleb. I shall pray to go forward as He did, in the company of my sisters in Christ.

    • Joanne says:

      Holly, I’m so glad to help your prayer focus today and this week. I can relate to the desert-like feelings of singleness and am so encouraged myself by Caleb’s story. I’m glad you are, too.

  12. WOW!! Thank Joanne, for reminding to give thanks and not complain when at times it can get very lonely…

  13. connienoelle says:


    How often do I practice this:

    “Caleb reminds me to steward well the season of delay, meeting God’s provision with thanksgiving instead of complaining, believing in God’s goodness instead of doubting it.”

    Thanks for the challenge and the conviction!

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