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The Desolation of Despair

Has your world collapsed down around you?  Have people you have loved and trusted separated themselves from you?  Are you so lonely because it seems no one cares about you any more?  Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?Are you unable to do the things you used to enjoy?  Are others ridiculing and attacking you?  Are you unhappy, miserable, depressed and in anguish?  If you are, you may be experiencing the desolation of despair. 

Despair happens to all people at various times for different reasons. Yet knowing this does not really help when you are going through such a time. Some even call it a "wilderness" experience - a time of spiritual dryness where God seems distant and uncaring. How do you deal with despair?  How do you get through such a time?

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is thy God?  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.  Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted in me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.  O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.  Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me?  Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, where is thy God?  Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.  Psalm 42

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.  For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off?  Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.  Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.  Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.  Psalm 43

When despair sets in, the best solution is to look up and trust in what you know is true about God your Creator .   The scripture above uses a metaphor, of a deer, to describe a well-known condition during times of despair. In times of utter despair when experiencing an unquenchable thirst for God, taunted by enemies, and unable to gather with God's people for worship, there is a yearning for the comfort from the living GOD.    The writer of these two Psalms is not searching for personal comfort or some religious ceremony, but desires nothing more than the real and consoling presence of the living GOD.  Believe it or not, that is what we desire when we find ourselves I the desolation of despair.

So what does he do?  Before doing anything, he remembers.He thinks back on the wonderful times of worship he has enjoyed in times past.  Rather than focus on the present times of despair, he forces himself to think back to the spiritual times of praise and rejoicing in the past. These past spiritual high times were those that lifted him into the joy of the LORD.

As a result of remembering these good times, he asks himself a question: Why are you downcast and disturbed?  He remembers the high times and considers that God gives him reasons to praise even during times of despair. It worked for will work for you!

When real despair sets in, it often stays for a very long time.  The writer of these Psalms acknowledges this reality: " Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted in me"?  He is physically far from Jerusalem where he desires to worship God with the throngs of godly men and women who gather there. He feels spiritually far from God as "deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me". He remembers that God's love is constant and unchanging toward him, yet he honestly cries out to God asking why God has forgotten him.  He reels with the agony of taunts from his enemies who heckle him by vocalizing, "where is thy God?"

This man is in serious pain. In every way.mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.he is suffering from deep despair. Despair treads mightily on the soul.  The tears are a constant reminder that God has not "fixed" your problem. Who will save you from this pit?  Indubitably, despair is more than anyone can handle.

Be careful. it is easy to choose to delight in misery. This oxymoron is not what we should do but we do it anyway. You can feel sorry for yourself or blame it on others or on circumstances, but scripture says that we are to be people of faith who do not doubt and do not waver.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  James 1:6-8

Despair brings the temptation to be double-minded. Believing in God who loves you and has promised to bring you home but reveling in the misery of circumstances beyond your control. Which will it be for you?  Be single minded!

For the desolation of despair, GOD is the answer. GOD alone is worthy of our hope and praise. The "Hope in GOD" noted above relates to waiting with expectancy. It is like the parent who tells the child to "hold out your hand and close your eyes." The child "hopes," waiting with certain expectation of a delightful surprise to be given. This is how we are to respond to our despair. We will wait with a certain expectation that GOD, who is worthy of praise all the times, will intercede in our situation. Really. He will!

Do your "enemies" continue to taunt you?  Do they appear to prosper in the face of your misery? The Psalmist points out the lies, from his enemies, which threaten him. When we are in despair, overt deceit is very hurtful. Have you ever overheard a person you think is your friend telling tales about you to others? Has someone important in your life told you that you have no future, that you are a nobody or that you are worthless?  Have others put you down, to climb the ladder of success?

These things are not truths to worry about or to live by. but they can hurt greatly. The Psalmist felt this way as he poured out his heart to God.  However, He refused to listen to lies. He refused to believe in the lies others told him. Instead, he cried out for God's truth to guide him and states that God's truth will lead to the place where God dwells.   Jesus said He was the way the truth and the life.  The truth of Jesus, and our acceptance of it, will ultimately allow us to dwell with GOD forever.

Times of despair cause you to have much greater sensitivity to things that happen. You get that, "When it rains, it pours" feeling. Every little thing seems worse, quite often, than it really is.

Sometimes it is hard to think rationally or even to apply common sense when your emotions are torn apart. That is why the Psalmist asks God to send forth His truth. You need to remember to seek truth in your time of despair. Even if it is a situation that cannot be understood, seek the truth about God's unchanging character. Seek the truth about God to overcome the darkness of despair.

When in the desolation of despair, remember the truth that set you free from sin.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  John 5:24

When in the desolation of despair, remember the truth about who set you free in the first place.

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Pslam 107:1

When in the desolation of despair, remember the promise from the One who is shortly to come again.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Matthew 28:20

When in the desolation of despair, remember the future that awaits us.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 
Romans 8:18

When in the desolation of despair, meditate and own these truths inside your very soul.

For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away His face from you, if ye return unto him. 2 Chronicles 30:9

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.  Psalm 30:5

I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. 
Psalm 3:8-12

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 
Psalm 103:10-12

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. 
Psalm 147:3

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:29-31

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  Galatians 6:9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Phillipians 4:8

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 
Hebrews 6:19

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  Hebrews 13:5-6

There will be times when you will most certainly walk through the desolation of despair. But there is no need to be stuck in the misery of that valley. Let times of despair lead to an affirmation of your faith, a time of great spiritual growth.

Emerge from the desolation of despair with the brightness of your faith in the LORD your GOD shining brilliantly. Put your hope in have praised Him, your are praising Him and you will yet praise Him!

Be blessed and meditate or meditate and be blessed, the choice is yours!
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