Have you ever been slammed with news that left you reeling? Emotions high and hope seeming to slip through your fingers?
I’ve had so many moments like this.
...news from a doctor
...a fight with a family member
…”no” to a long awaited prayer
These moments happen often, and yet, for so long, I let my emotions rule my response. Anger. Fear. Sadness. They were all a version of despair.
But as I sit here today and reflect on my response to yet another instance of bad news, I am taking a moment to consider what brings me from despair to hope.
What specific actions help me to stand up to the lie of defeat?
You don’t have to be swayed by despair. Christ calls you to live in hope and in victory. Here’s how:
1. The Grace to Feel
One of the biggest lies in a moment of despair is that you are wrong for feeling it. We are told to live in hope and to live in victory, but that doesn’t mean you cannot feel.
It simply means that you bring those feelings to the Lord and trust that He is with you.
When you receive bad news, when you are hurt by a friend, when you are disappointed with an answer, allow yourself the grace to feel it.
Jesus himself experienced these emotions.
He wept when Lazarus died.
He threw tables in anger when the temple was misused.
Emotions are a natural response and it is okay to feel them.
But don’t allow yourself to get stuck in them.
Have a good cry. Or punch your pillow a few times. But then it’s time to move forward and give it to God.
2. A Prayer for Strength
When we go through difficult times, it is so important to remember where our strength comes from.
I know that when I get upset, I oftentimes let my mind drift its way through all the things I can do to fix the problem.
I put my energy and my focus into my own strength.
And time and time again, I fail to find peace because true peace comes from surrendering our pain to God.
So when you are in a moment of despair, take it to God.
It may be a feeble prayer of just a few words. But God knows your heart and He knows your intention. In fact,
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. -Romans 8:26
When you cannot think of the words to say, simply placing your heart before God is enough. The Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf.
I like to put these somewhere I can find them when I need them. They help me to focus my mind and my heart on God and in doing so to surrender my heart and find the strength to move forward.
3. Memorize Healing Words
One of the greatest ways to overcome the lie of defeat is to have Scripture at the ready.
When Jesus was in the desert, he was tempted by Satan. And every time that Satan tempted Him, Jesus replied by quoting Scripture.
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” -Matthew 4:10
When we are threatened by our emotions, we are being tempted by Satan.
“You can’t do this”
“You are a failure”
“You won’t get through this”
Whatever it is that Satan is throwing at you, you can take your stand, just like Jesus did, with Scripture at the ready.
Take a moment and consider what tends to hinder your hope? What pulls you into despair? Once you have discovered that, you can find Scripture to combat it.
I love to repeat Philippians 4: 4-9 because it reminds me that in order to find peace, I need to focus my mind on what is good.
Find Scripture and memorize it so that you are ready to take your stand against the lies of defeat and the overwhelming despair.
4. Reach Out
God created us to be in fellowship with one another. He knew we would need the support of friends to help us weave through the ups and downs of life.
When things are good, we rejoice together. When things are hard, we mourn together.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -Romans 12:15
When you are threatened by despair, it is so important to reach out to someone. A friend, a mentor, a pastor, a fellow church member. Find someone and simply reach out.
We are meant to carry each other’s burdens. We are called to walk alongside our brothers and sisters and to point them to Christ.
Think of one person you can reach out to when you are in a moment of despair. Find someone who will listen, but not let you wallow in your pain. Find someone who will point you to your loving Father and remind you of your hope in Christ.
What has helped you to overcome despair?
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