Apologies to my readers: What a way to start out a month-long series—writing about despair! And saying it can be a good thing! So let me clarify further, and then let’s move on—to hope! And learning! And forward progress! And love of life! And amazing things! And so on. The good thing about starting a blog series about despair is that it’s all uphill from here!
So, note these things about the last post or two:
Specific. That’s the key word we need to keep in mind from yesterday’s post.
Despair. That’s the word I didn’t like–and still don’t, because I tend to think of it as all-encompassing, and have too much of a tendency to think “all is lost,” when only one thing is–and needs to be kissed goodbye.
What Shannon Thomas is talking about in her book is just that: despair about one specific thing that, being clung to, is sickening and killing one from the inside out.
It’s also robbing the focus from, and undermining, our true hope, the hope that we can count on, the hope that does not disappoint.
The Bible says a lot about the detriment of misplaced hope.
In Isaiah 57 for instance, God through the prophet rebukes those among his people who are putting their hope in idols and other false gods, to the point of even sacrificing their children to them (Isa 57:2-10; Isa 57:11-13,15, 20-21). Notice especially in verse 10, He says, “You wearied yourself by such going about, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.‘ They were supposed to feel hopeless—about their idols! What He’s calling for here is a specific despair: depair in their idolatry, despair in their forsaking Him and His ways and substituting horrible practices in place of putting their trust in Him. But in this passage He also offers hope: to the righteous, and to those of a contrite heart.
This theme of rebuke is repeated frequently throughout the Old Testament.
The Psalms and Proverbs name other things we ought to feel despair and hopeless about trusting in:
Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set [your] heart [on them].(Ps 62:10)
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? [There is] more hope for a fool than for him (Pro 26:12).
Do not put your trust in princes, [Nor] in a son of man, in whom [there is] no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.
Happy [is he] who [has] the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope [is] in the LORD his God (Psa 146:3-5 NKJV).
And notice this last one encourages the faithful with the opportunity of hope, true hope.
The New Testament also has a lot to add. But we’ll pick that up tomorrow.