Monday, February 9, 2015

Despair: Giving Up

Chuckle:  Showing off his new hearing aids, Ralph said to his wife, “This is the world’s best hearing aid.  I haven’t heard this well since I was a kid.”  “What kind is it?” asked his wife.  Glancing at his watch, Ralph said, “Oh, it’s about two fifteen.”
Quote:  “Never despair, But if you do, work on in despair.”  --Edmund Burke
    “We are hard pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.  We are perplexed, but don’t (despair) give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.  We are knocked down, but we get up again and keep going” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT).
To despair is to give up on life and lose all hope for the future.  There’s nothing quite as heart-breaking as seeing a Christian brother or sister so beaten down and discouraged by the cares of this world that they have lost all hope.  The apostle Paul suffered more terrible persecution, including physical pain, than you and I can imagine – all because of his love, faithfulness, and loyalty to his Lord.  He was able to avoid despair and the temptation to give up because he received his strength and positive attitude from his dependence upon God’s never ending presence and power in his life.  He said, “For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need”  (Philippians 4:13 NLT.
It’s easy for us to become discouraged and hopeless because of the crime and chaos we observe every day in our world.  Add to that other personal hardships which we confront in life and we have the formula for despair.  But Jesus understood the troubles His followers would endure and said: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NLT). We will face troubles, pressures, and trials.  As they come, ask God for strength, work on, and don’t despair.
    During the Thirty Years' War in Europe (1618-1648), German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."
    It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a "song in the night.  Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.

Love, Jerry & Dotse


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