Despair–have you ever experienced it? I have. It is the complete loss or absence of hope.
There are many times I can remember letting it become a “foothold” in a situation until sadness, depression, or discouragement slowly enveloped my whole being and hung around like a black cloud just above my head. Because it followed every I went, it effected everyone around me: family, friends, and co-workers.
I remember one situation in particular. One of the last classes I took, before I received my Bachelor’s Degree, was an Advanced Creative Writing class. I was to write a twenty to twenty-five page fiction, non-fiction, or poetry piece.
I chose to write a non-fiction memoir. Our only “real” grade–1,000 points for the term– would come at the end when we turned in our finished piece. However, we would twice receive full credit–of fifty points each–if we simply turned in the right page count at different milestone sections.
Our first milestone section would be the first ten pages. I worked hard on it and received full credit for all ten pages, but my teacher was not impressed. Based on her comments/questions, it didn’t seem as though she even read my paper. Now, I know writing is subjective, but if I can’t get her to understand my point of view, how am I going to pass this class?! My whole grade is basically her opinion of my writing.
This hit me really hard and had me questioning everything. You see, I never wanted to be a writer. God planted that seed (writing) in me a few years ago and it led me to getting my degree and, eventually, to where I am now.
For several days, after I read her comments, I thought I must have heard God wrong. I can’t write and who would want to read it, anyway?? Must have been a mistake. I was so discouraged. At this point, I was wondering if I should just quit because if I couldn’t pass this class, how would I get my degree and move forward with the plan God had for my life?
Over the next several nights, I decided to keep working on it and see where it went. Through lots of tears, prayer, faith, and perseverance I kept taking small steps forward. This is where I leaned on and trusted God a lot. Faith in action.
Slowly, the dark cloud began to lift. The more I put my faith in God, the one that planted the seed of writing in my heart, the easier my next steps became and I could sense the Holy Spirit guiding me and my writing. He never left my side and His presence was as strong as ever!
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
A huge breakthrough happened as a result of this testing–I received a 100% in the class–but more importantly my relationship with my Savior changed. When I am on the cusp of despair, I lean into Him and lay it all at His feet so much sooner than I used to. Daily.
I can relate to the despair felt in this story about Martin Luther. He was the German theologian and religious reformer who was a catalyst of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation (Brtainica.com). It just goes to show you that all people can experience extreme despair. Check it out:
“There is a story about Martin Luther going through a period of depression and discouragement. For days his long face graced the family table and dampened the family’s home life. One day his wife came to the breakfast table all dressed in black, as if she were going to a funeral service. When Martin asked her who had died, she replied, “Martin, the way you’ve been behaving lately, I thought God had died, so I came prepared to attend His funeral.”
Her gentle but effective rebuke drove straight to Luther’s heart, and as a result of that lesson the great Reformer resolved never again to allow worldly care, resentment, depression, discouragement, or frustration to defeat him. By God’s grace, he vowed, he would submit his life to the Savior and reflect His grace in a spirit of rejoicing, whatever came” (Graham, Dr. Billy. Pages 316-317).
I read this story today in my daily devotional and it reminded me of God is everywhere at the same time (omnipresent), all powerful (omnipotent), and all knowing (omniscient). Why should I despair?! Know one is looking out for me the way He is, so I am going to rely in Him daily for all I need one day at a time. In the same way my brother, Martin Luther, did. What about you? 🙂
All the glory to God,
Britanica.com. “Martin Luther: Biography, Reformation, Works, and Facts.” July 28, 2019. Web. September 9, 2019.
Graham, Dr. Billy. “Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional.” September 9th. Pages 316-317. WORD Publishing. Print.
Image of “The Dark Cloud- The Black Wallflower in Wonderland” https://thewallflowerinwonderland.com/2017/04/14/the-dark-cloud/
3 thoughts on “Praise Despite Despair”
Author Ryan Callahan
Amen Shanon! I fell into deep despair and hopelessness after I was diagnosed with Celiac. It lasted for years. Part of how the Lord brought healing and pulled me out of it was by calling me to publish my testimony and start a blog. God is so faithful and He has been with me through it all! May His will be done in all things! God bless!
Amen, Ryan. I’m continuing to pray for a complete healing in your body, Ryan. I love your testimony of what God is doing in you and through you. You shine with the light of God, my brother. Keep going with your steadfast faith!!!
Becoming His Tapestry
Instinctively when I despair 😩 I want to wallow in self pity, sometimes I must admit I do wallow, but God…. He does not let me stay there, as the day progresses, He reminds me of His love and His mercy and His greatness, and His power. Great post