From my journal entry, September 22nd:

“Felt like giving up today, being tormented and defeated by three miserable ailments simultaneously…” [This in addition to several other kinds of bad stuff that had been getting me down at the same time, which I’d journaled about in previous entries. I really did feel totally defeated. I’d felt, in fact, like Job, and had told God so.]


But this journal entry continues,

“…Then I opened up one of the fortune cookies from last night’s take-out. The ‘fortune’-ate advice inside said, “Despair is criminal.”

Whoah! That was like a slap in the face!

I was just poised to rant at the slip of paper about kicking a person when she’s down, but something checked me. I stopped and reconsidered, and I decided, “Yes, I guess it is!”

I wrote this reply in tiny letters under the printed words already there on the little slip. Later I even decorated the message, small as it was, with autumnal leaves and fruit, pasted it onto my journal page, and added these words: “It’s a criminal act against our own selves.” And at the bottom of the journal page I went on,

“So heads up! I went and got soothed by good music online, a quiet place to rest, and sleep—lots of sleep.” 

I realize a lot hinges on how the reader responds to such a “fortune.” A message like the one I got could make a horrible day unbearable. At a particularly bad time, it could even push a person right over the edge. [If that’s where you find yourself right now as you read, please, PLEASE, click this link and call the number on it immediately.]

But sometimes we just need a sharp reality check. Life was not that bad right then (as bad as Job’s anyhow), and when I did a mindset shift, the whole evening got better.


So there’s our first bit of “found wisdom”—“Despair is a crime.” (Against ourselves.)

HOWEVER… During the same time period, amid the same bad stuff and defeated feelings, I had read something else surprising about despair, and quite different from Fortune Cookie’s take on it: This other source spoke of despair positively, as a starting place! That will be tomorrow’s bit of found wisdom.

(Stay tuned.)

8 thoughts on “Day 3 of “Found Wisdom:” Insight about Despair, Part One

  1. During my rough time this summer when I felt despair, an advertisement for a necklace kept appearing on my facebook page. I went to the site and left the tab up for a week or two and then bought the necklace because the title on the tab was such an encouragement as I stayed at the hospital with my dad. The necklace and the tab said “hold on to hope” Hope is the opposite of despair and the antidote. All our hope is in Christ.

    1. Yes! That’s the hope we can count on! And aren’t these “coincidences” wonderful? Sometimes (like in this case) I also see God’s sense of humor.

  2. I can be discouraged and yes affected by many underlying conditions, but I have stood against defeat. Enjoy reading your posts.

  3. I’m so glad to hear this, Donna. Yes, let’s keep standing against defeat… together!

  4. Each of us seem to be going through a trial of some sort, but the secret to joy is not to ignore that we have a problem, but to know who is with us as we walk (or run) through our troubles. Keep sharing encouragement and challenges for your friends and family. We live in a time when our days are numbered, and all that we do for Jesus is the only thing that really counts. I am writing a series “Who is Jesus?” (because of a young friend who know nothing or little about Jesus) but I am surprised how many are enjoying my simple messages. I am also doing video’s and sharing them on You Tube and Facebook. My blog site is

    1. Exactly, Hazel! So glad you added this comment. It’s when we try to tough it out ourselves or “be enough” that we get into real trouble. The “good” thing about despair (see next post) is that it can bring us out of ourselves and into His arms and power.

  5. Good stuff, Sylvia! God cares about the details and makes an interesting collage of our lives, troubles and all.

    1. Thank you for kind encouragement, Lynn. I really like that picture you give of God making an intersting collage of our lives “with the troubles and all.” Thinking the “darks with the lights,” I’m keeping that in mind and musing on it.

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