Psalm 27:13 “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.”
What is it that brings hopelessness and despair?
I’ve often wondered why so many people are depressed, suicidal, or anxious as I walk through our ER at the hospital. There is a process of placing patients with these diagnosis into special protective outfits, referring them to a special attendant who runs them through a series of questions and determines the appropriate course of treatment. The people who work with those despondent are sincere and try their best to help them through these acute phases of despair. I have met a few of these patients in ministry and I’m thankful for programs like Set Free or Teen Challenge that gives a setting for healing and restoration to take place.
There is one common thread among the people who suffer:
The devastating effects of sin.
1 John 3:4 “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
The effects of sin can leave people hopeless and oftentimes confused. I’ve sat at tables in homeless warming centers and listened to their stories, the crimes brought against these folks who many have forgotten are stories of the depravity of this world. The rape, incest, abuse and hatred shown them ruined them as children and led them into a broken sense of cultural disconnect.
The sinful heart is capable of so much evil, it’s hard to imagine being in God’s position and witnessing it in the world each day.
The “world”, is a term often used for those who are still separated from God. Without knowing the giver of life, hopelessness becomes the product of those who place their hope in this world.
I John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
This patterns we see in people 2000 years ago are the patterns we observe today, just in a more modern sense. We can turn on the T.V., and quickly see the garbage of a world that grows increasingly hateful. If an advertiser wants people’s attention, lust is a common lure to draw people’s attention. Hedonism, or the love of money is expressed for those who think they never have enough, while alcoholism promotes an image of well-being and happiness. The food and entertainment industry continuously entices people into thinking these objects bring comfort. Since the themes of this world were intended for good by God, the enemy twists what was meant to be practiced in righteousness into an abomination. If we keep our minds on things above, God blesses by giving good gifts in due season.
If pleasure becomes the point of focus, the end of these leads to death.
More can be Less
If we make finding the right car, buying the perfect house or making more money our source of happiness, we are looking for these things to bring fulfillment—-but they never will.
Ungodly relationships are not blessed, cars wear out, houses cost money and time, riches corrupt as well as power, jobs get old and so does the daily grind of trying to maintain these things you’ve fought so hard to gain.
King David said he would have despaired had he not seen God’s goodness in his land.
It is God’s goodness that brings fulfillment.
Since the Lord supplies our needs, any other focus becomes like idols in our lives. These idols can take many forms, from sports to the way we look, from the shape of our bodies to the color of our hair. There seems to be no limit to the things we place our priorities on.
Psalm 68:9-10 You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,
Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance,
When it was weary.
Your congregation dwelt in it;
You, O God, provided from Your goodness for the poor.
It is out of the abundance of God’s goodness that He provides for us. If we seek our fulfillment apart from God, we will miss out on the blessings He brings. Our faith grows when we learn to trust in Him.
Psalm 31:19 “Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, which you have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!”
God’s goodness can be found, He showers it down upon His people because they know Him and they recognize the source. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear receive it. Those who look to the world do not.
Nehemiah 9:35 “For they have not served You in their kingdom, Or in the many good things that You gave them, Or in the large and rich land which You set before them; Nor did they turn from their wicked works.”
The source of God’s goodness is the expression of His love.
When we keep our eyes on Him, there is hope, joy, peace, and satisfaction, and there remains a future. When we walk in trust, relying on God’s provision, we place our value on what He gives and we stop looking to the world for satisfaction. When we allow Him to heal the wounds others have inflicted, we place our vulnerabilities in His care.
Psalm 26:3 “For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth”
There are so many promises God makes to those who trust in Him. Proverbs 3 is a great encouragement to know there is more to life than this world can give, when summarized we see:
- Length of days and long life
- High Esteem
- Good Health
- Increase of wealth
- Correction when we error
The start of all these promises begins with obedience. God’s moral law gives the faithful follower the pathway for walking with God. Obedience is key, all of the sins of pride and seeking after happiness originate from a heart that denies God in it’s endeavors. Our perspective changes when our focus changes.
I’ve personally known despair and I’ve met with many people who have labored under grief and hopelessness. When despair is whittled down to its source, at its core is sin. People have often attributed their trouble to God cursing their lives but really the curse began with mankind in the garden of Eden. The path of sin has been a curse for thousands of years but the solution is easy; repent and begin to trust.
When you trust in the Lord, the gloom begins to brighten, the outlook seems more hopeful, and there remains a remembrance of who we are.
Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Please don’t lose heart—Look to the Lord your maker and find the hope and joy you’ve always longed for. If you think suicide is an option, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a faithful believer or pastor. It all may look lost, but remember, it’s all in the perspective!