BEWARE OF DEADLY DESPAIR!
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5 (NASB)
William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who campaigned for the abolition of the British slave trade experienced a nervous breakdown and his physical health collapsed after a particularly stinging defeat in 1796.
Parliamentary opponents offered free opera tickets to some of the bill's supporters for the night of the vote and the bill was defeated by four votes. Imagine his disappointment and disillusionment!
Disappointment is a natural outcome when aspirations and hopes are thwarted - when someone else's will is running counter to my purposes and intentions - effectively opposing me.
Disillusionment speaks to becoming disenchanted with something that formerly attracted or moved me deeply. I may not become disillusioned as often as I become disappointed but its thwack can knock me senseless and I may wake to a state of cynicism from which my heart never completely recovers.
Even though William Wilberforce experienced disappointment and disillusionment in spades, he did not despair. He lived to see the day when slavery was declared illegal in all of the British colonies. However, there is another person living in the public eye today who moved through disappointment to disillusionment to despair right before our very eyes.
I recently read in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL that Thomas Kinkade, "The Painter of Light," died on Good Friday this year, at age 54, after a night of heavy drinking. I am one of his legion of Christian admirers who was deeply saddened to hear this news. According to his brother Patrick, the genius of Kinkade's paintings was that they kept us on the outside where we longingly gazed at the warm, inviting homes portrayed. His paintings connected to a deep hunger within all of us for the ideal. Apparently, this longing in Kinkade created a vulnerability - an unfulfilled deep hunger - which allowed disappointment, disillusionment and finally, despair, to overtake him. His death is a warning that we must take seriously the insidious poison of despair and guard ourselves against it!
Despair is a perilous condition. When my spirit is attacked, I lose motivation to try and that is what happens when I descend into despair. Despair means losing all hope. When I believe things will never change - never be different, I am walking in enemy territory that is very treacherous - a territory filled with lies and misinformation inhabited by a being who desires my complete destruction.
Over the course of our lives, a thousand disappointments drag us down. How do we cope when simply a break from the daily grind is not enough to do the trick? The Psalmist, with wise resolve, chooses to make his disappointment, disillusionment and temptation to despair, a reason to nestle closer to God. Even though a child of God may know little or even nothing at all about what he is truly longing for, the true object of his longings is always God!
I long for a connected relationship with God where I give and receive regularly - where His presence is help to my soul - the seat of my emotions and desires. I long to know all the mysterious joys and satisfactions of MOVING CLOSER to God instead of MOVING AWAY from Him during times of disappointment, disillusionment and despair. With such an immense God, who can imagine the blessings upon blessings hiding there?
If God feels a million miles away, who moved? I pray my resolve to stand against the enemy and the poison of deadly despair he uses for his advantage will keep me pressing ever closer to my Heavenly Father - the only source of goodness and light in my life. Strengthen my resolve, O God!