Despair is our business

David Burchett

I opened the email box this morning and I was reminded that youngest son Brett fell straight down from the Burchett family tree. In his message was a link to a new  poster from a company called Despair, Inc. This group of lovable cynics parodies the motivational poster companies. Brett sent me this to start my day.

Of course I then spent thirty minutes that I will never get back looking at all of the “Demotivating” downers from this company. Would you like to join me in a half-empty tour of abject despair? Of course you would because you have nothing better to do (just getting you warmed up).

The first one fits nicely with my personal slogan that my ministry is to make other Christians feel superior.

Mistakes – It could be that the only purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

I thought the next one was really funny until I really started thinking about it. And I realized it is true.

Dysfunction – The only consistent feature of all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.

Hmmmm. At least I try to put the “fun” in dysfunction.

Some of the “demotivating” thoughts had real application to church. What pastor or church leader has not felt the truth of this poster?

Success – Some people dream of success, while other people live to crush those dreams.

If you have ever been clotheslined by committee or sacked by a deacon board blitz you can relate to the sad truth of that slogan.

The next poster warns us about the damage done by gossip, loose lips, and ungodly comments.

Teamwork – A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.

Guilty. And the truth is that we “flakes” really are not so harmless when we team up with others to start the snowball rolling.

The next message is funny but also a bit sad to me. It is sad because it reflects the spirit of so many people who are defeated by life and have no hope.

Doubt – In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.

If the battle is between you and the world I would take that bet. I know that would be how a cynical and dysfunctional guy like me would view life apart from my faith. As a follower of Jesus I have hope in place of doubt. James talked about the things that the world brings at us in a very different way. He does not despair. James would have been immediately fired by Despair, Inc after he described troubles as an opportunity for joy.

Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.  James 1  NLT

That won’t sell a lot of “demotivating” posters but it does contain a lot of truth that Joni and I have experienced first hand in recent months. So many people tell me that they could not handle cancer the way that we have dealt with it. And I tell them they are wrong. I would have said exactly the same thing before we began this trial. But when you are a follower of Jesus you are not alone. He has given us strength and grace that is beyond my comprehension or ability to describe. I know that we are ready for anything because He is with us. God has proved faithful to us in this trial. If I am doing well in this journey there is no other explanation apart from Jesus. Later James talks about the results of such faith and endurance.

God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  James 1 NLT

Sometimes in the battle I think we forget about that promise. Sometimes I wonder if we really believe it to be true? All of us visit despair now and then. With Jesus it can (and should be) a short trip.