Despair: It is what it is

The Bible never glosses over the fact that reality can become so impossible to process that individuals just throw their hands up and say, “No more. Can’t do it. I’m done.” Whether the thought is expressed with anger, fear or exhaustion, that place is acknowledged as being real human experience as in Psalm 27:13:

I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Thank God that the Scriptures do not come with some patronizing, pat-us-on-the-shoulder “there, there” nonsense that implies that we’re just imagining that life is hard.

This has been on my mind for some weeks, because I suspect most of us are about stretched to our limits and there’s no end in sight.

Here’s a summary about despair that I wrote several years ago when despair very nearly ended my life.

It’s amazing and appalling to experience in full spectrum how tenuous and delicate the threads of human determination are. The mind works on one demand and is soon shot down by another. The sweeps of frustration and failure have no regard or respect for the tiny beachheads of victory being established on little shell-pocked beaches that nobody knows about.

Despair is a most diabolical form of pride, because it presumes that all resources have been tapped; that every possibility has failed; that the unforeseen has caught God off guard and that He has been found wanting.

Despair says that I am through with trusting Him and done with walking by faith; that I am not enough and neither is He. Despair is the conclusion of an argument based on man’s knowledge and weakeness–and is the only possible conclusion for such an argument.

Having God’s power and grace brought to bear on my behalf is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity.

And understanding that is the alternative to despair.

The old hymnwriter nailed it:

Should I be carried to the skies on flower beds of ease, while others fought to win the price and sailed through blood seas?

Are there no foes for me to face, shall I not feel the flood? Is this vain world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would sin, increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word!

That may strike some as a bloody perspective, but the author may have also simply had a yearning to really engage the enemy. Today we don’t have to go looking for an enemy to engage: we wake up surrounded by them.

Christianity allows us–in fact requires us–to face the reality of our weaknesses and in so doing, does not distort or destroy the grace of God. It just provides a reinforcement of the facts on the ground and presents His provision. Facing reality head-on does not equal leaving the battle or failing to endure.

That’s good. Difficult. But good.

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