Overcoming Despair

Posted on February 1, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Rankin-Devotional“Lord, how long will you continually forget me? How long will you hide your face from me?  Psalm 13:1

It is the unusual person who does not go through times of despair. Plans have gone awry. Having lost a job, subsequent employment is elusive and financial stability begins to unravel. Parents despair in cultivating appropriate behavior in their children or live with the disappointment of home life which is less than they dreamed it would be. People despair in seeking to lose weight or break unhealthy habits when their own intentions fall short of the required discipline.

For many it is just disillusionment with life. Days have become routine with lack of meaning and purpose. The sameness of our job year after year has long since ceased to be fulfilling. Dreams of someday taking an exotic vacation have vanished, and we have given up the fantasy of exciting new experiences. More and more people live isolated, lonely lives with minimal social interaction and succumb to the feeling that no one cares.

We can all identify with the dilemma of the Psalmist who felt abandoned by God. He enumerated the problems: his enemies continued to prevail and anxiety continued to build. Whether literal armed antagonists or just massive problems that overwhelmed him, the result was sleepless nights and a sense of being forsaken.

We cry out as he did, “Where is God? Why isn’t He doing something? Why doesn’t He respond to my prayers and supplications and do something?” Rather than excepting responsibility for our own happiness and fulfillment or taking initiative for dealing with our own problems and dissatisfaction in life, we want to blame God. He should be committed to our joy and success. Why does He allow us to grovel in melancholy-inducing situations and feel overwhelmed by life? How long, O Lord, before YOU do something?

The implications of this Psalm, however, are that we are to depend on God. We should not deny reality–there is merit is honestly confronting and acknowledge our situation and how we feel. But don’t try to work it out yourself. The concluding verses give good advice for overcoming despair.

“But I have trusted in your faithful love, my heart will rejoice in your deliverance. I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously” (Psalm 13:5-6). In essence the solution is to keep on trusting in God and rejoicing in your salvation. What you have in Jesus Christ far exceeds the trivial problems and challenges of daily life. Know that God loves us and He is faithful and trustworthy. He does not ever leave us or forsake us.

Then he goes on to say that we are to sing into Lord because He has treated us generously. In other words, praise the Lord at all times. Keep the song in your heart that praises God for who He is–worthy of all honor, glory and praise–rather than just praising Him for what He does. How shallow to lose a heart of praise just because we don’t see His hand at work. Then finally, count your blessings. Recall all that God has done for you in the past and how He has been generous in his mercy and grace.

How does one overcome despair? (1) Trust in the Lord. (2) Rejoice in your salvation. (3) Praise Him in all things. (4) And count your blessings.

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