Despair, Desperation, and Disgrace

When we have lost everything, including hope, life becomes a disgrace, and death a duty. (W.C. Fields)

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced. (Psalm 22:3-5)

Who would have ever thought a comedian like W.C. Fields would have been so wise? When we have lost hope, life leads us into despair, desperation, and eventually disgrace. Before long, we honestly think the only way to overcome these three haunting difficulties is death. When God is truly enthroned in our lives, we don't need to settle into despair - because God is our hope. We don't have to imagine the worst, leading us into places of deep desperation - seeking all those solutions to the problems our mind's eye can imagine. We aren't subject to disgrace because God ensures that all things are possible with him and him alone. 

Despair is really the absence of hope - it is the place of 'giving up' or 'giving in'. We might just find ourselves there when it seems like there has been the longest delay in seeing our prayers answered. We have petitioned God day after day, hoping for some answer, but it has eluded us up to this point. Without much thought about it, we allow that hope to drift into the place of disbelief and distrust. God reminds us that faith is not the absence of things that would make us doubt or struggle - it is the thinnest of threads that holds onto his hand in the absence of any other solution.

Desperation might lead us one of two paths - into his arms, or into the fray of trying to work things out on our own. I certainly know the disappointment of taking that latter course! Having decided it was time to take matters into my hands on more than one occasion, I have made a mess of things way too often to count. Desperation is just us acting kind of reckless and sometimes without much thought behind our actions. Despair does that to us on occasion - leading us into 'thoughtless activity'. When we allow our trust in God to be disturbed, we find something to replace that trust - like our own efforts. That rarely works out well, my friends.

No wonder disgrace is quickly on the heels of despair! The muddle we create when we place our hope in ourselves rather than God is certainly not a pretty picture. What can we do when our hope begins to be challenged by despair? It might be as simple as pressing in a little closer to God - through worship and praise. If you have ever been at the place where you think you are at the end of that thread of hope, then began to raise your voice in praise, a song coming after a bit, then raised hands and raw emotions, you know the strength that also came in that 'yielded moment'. God's presence surrounds you, his peace invades the despair of your heart, and his grace beckons you to hold on a bit longer. God is never going to leave or 'forsake' us - hope's embers might just need a little stoking. Just sayin!


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