Despair, I think, is the antonym for hope. I have been thinking about hope and as is so often true, I find it wherever I turn. I hear it songs and sermons, read about it in scripture, Bible study and devotionals.
Yesterday, in my devotional reading in Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost For His Highest,” he wrote about despair. He used as his example the time the disciples fell asleep in the garden when Jesus had asked them to watch and pray. When they realized what they had done they were filled with despair. They felt, in that moment, they could never make up for what they had done.
“The sense of the irreparable is apt to make us despair, and we say – ‘It is all up now, it is no use trying any more.’”
How easily I can identify with such feelings. Whenever I fail do to something I know the Lord has asked me to do, or done something I know to be wrong I am very apt to sink into despair and have a “what’s the use” attitude. I believe that is just what the enemy of our souls is after. How pleased he is when we give in to despair and allow our relationship to the Lord to suffer.
However, Jesus has a better way. “Whenever we realize that we have not done that which we had a magnificent opportunity of doing,” writes Chambers, “then we are apt to sink into despair; and Jesus Christ comes and says -’Sleep on now, that opportunity is lost forever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing.’ Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.”
The answer is to let the past be washed in the blood of the Savior and to go on to the next thing He has. That is the glorious work of redemption and the amazing grace of our Lord. He never gives up on us. He is there to forgive us, to pick us up and dust us off and give us hope. The enemy would have us remain under the weight of guilt and shame, unable to muster up the energy to try again. Jesus extends a hand of forgiveness, mercy and grace.
“Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action.” concludes Chambers.
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”