The Antidote for Despair
Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! –Psalm 27[mjn1] :11-14
Despair is an utterly dark place where you don’t want anyone to go. People who go there often don’t come back. The dictionary defines despair as “destitute of positive expectations.” If you’re in despair, you can’t see anything good in your future. You’re tempted to give up.
Instead of surrendering to the darkness of despair, David fired up his confidence in a promise-keeping God. You and I need to do the same. We need to get hold of some promises. People will say, I don’t know how she can be so strong through this . . . and How can he just keep going with everything that’s happening?
Here’s the answer to those questions—we fix our hope on our promise-keeping God. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to“be still, and know that I am God.” When we come to the place where we can’t do anything else, we must stand still and believe. We may think that’s the worst possible place to be, but God loves it when we’re there. When we can’t do anything, we must let God do it all or throw in the towel.
I will not despair, God is always good. With this promise, we get to God’s heart. Not only is He with us; not only is He sovereign and ordering the circumstances of our lives, but God is also good. God’s goodness is the ultimate rescue net under all of life’s experiences.
The goodness of God is stamped all over Scripture. Psalm 27:13 says, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (nasb). I love David’s honesty. Here was the only man called “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), anointed by Samuel to be king of Israel, a giant-slayer, but no stranger to suffering, saying, I would have lost it if I had not believed.
We don’t know what circumstances David was facing when he composed this psalm, but the concluding statement is full of faith. Despair wasn’t avoided by seeing the goodness of the Lord but by believing he would again see God’s goodness. He had seen it, he believed he would see it again, but at the moment, he had to trust the time would come when he would again see God’s goodness. Why? Because God is good even when we can’t see it.
I will lose hope if my eyes are anywhere but on the Lord. When my eyes are fixed on Him, I will see His goodness. It may not be today, but I will join David in believing that I will“see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
How would an observer note that you are keeping your eyes fixed on Christ today?
Lord, I want to be as transparent as David in voicing my fears and anxieties to You, and as bold as he was in trusting You. I know You want to grow in me a faith that will not falter. Help me to remember that when I do falter, because You won’t give up on me. Give me eyes to see Your goodness every day of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.