Despair: Hard, Helpful, Normal

Discouragement, depression, and despair are not strangers to the Christian. I believe that most of us really think this, “If I’m faithful to God, trusting in his grace, empowered by Spirit—I will not have crushing darkness as part of my experience.” And then it comes. What’s happening to me, O God? What am I supposed to do? I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t think it’d be this way. I didn’t think I’d be here now. But, we’ve got things to learn in these times. If we study our discouragements, we’ll see what we love and what we really believe and where we really rest and what our real treasure is. And it won’t always be pretty. In disappointment and discouragement we are tempted to idolatry, because we begin to think that God has withheld the greatest treasure we could ever have, when in reality He is the greatest treasure we could ever have.

So, what are your unfulfilled dreams, your unsatisfied and unsatisfiable desires and plans, yearnings, and longings? I wonder what the hopes and treasures are that you’ve always wanted and never obtained, or had them taken away from before your very eyes. I don’t ask whether you have these things, I know you do, we all do. Some are so great that they seem unbearable, some less, but we all have them! So really, the question is — what do we do with them? So get it in your mind right now – What have you cried out and asked God for deep in the darkness of the night through blinding, hopeless tears, wondering in pain and agony, ‘Why?’ only to hear from God….nothing. Elijah has something to teach us about this, because that pain, agony, and despair….is the story of Elijah. Elijah was a powerful prophet of God, like Moses was. Crazy cool miracles took place at his hand. God walked with this man in a weighty manner. Elijah yearned for good and great things, and he served the Lord courageously. And yet he knew what it was to walk in this world, right up to the very end of this life with his hopes utterly dashed. But he knew more, he knew the ruthless pursuit of God to make himself happy in God.

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