It is a dark word. It is an even darker experience.
I have survived it in bleak seasons of implosive failure and radical loss. I have watched it nearly bleed life out of some who are most dear to me.
It is invasive in its paralyzing futility. It is indiscriminate in its painful finality.
Despair casts an ominous shadow over the entirety of the life it infects. It is more intense than desperation and more severe than depression. It waves a white flag from the stronghold of the heart in a kind of psychic surrender to the inevitable.
- Despair cannot envision the end of cycles of loss and failure…it says: I cannot change.
- Despair cannot define an important purpose or essential destiny…it believes: I do not matter.
- Despair cannot grasp a personal identity or sense of significance…it accepts: I am not valuable.
Despair is giving up at the core of the soul. It is believing in and acting on a lie so deep that nothing external can reverse it. Carried to its logical conclusion, it ends in death…the death of the soul.
Modern culture is organic soil perfectly suited to germinate the seeds of despair. The constant barrage of unrealistic symbols of significance and inaccessible standards of success leave the agonized among us with a growing sense that they are merely taking up space on the planet.
The pandemic presence of addictions, rampant compulsivity, and myriad self-destructive activities are dark testimony to the empty promises of a bankrupt culture.
Despair has become the native language of our post-modern world.
But there is another way to get through the malaise of unrealized expectation in our day. It is rare but it is powerful.
It is the one way to live in this world with joy; to milk true pleasure and extract real purpose from the daily experience of life as it is.
- Hope always believes that something infinitely better lies ahead…it says: I am becoming more.
- Hope readily embraces the truth of the image of God within…it believes: I make a difference.
- Hope confidently welcomes the intimacy grace has created…it affirms: I am accepted and loved.
Hope is not an unfounded fantasy that everything will turn out alright. It is an unshakeable assurance that everything will be alright no matter how it turns out.
Hope flies in the face of despair, refusing to follow the herd in the blind pursuits of an empty culture. It is the mindset of those who refuse to join a world running full speed into a dead end.
Hope is the natural result of knowing the One who pours real living into real life.
Those who are willing to follow this One who walked in our despairing world with a hopeful heart now live confidently; able to trust in the unimaginable, live out the unbelievable and walk through the unpredictable.
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah gave this gang of misfits a name: “prisoners of hope”. These people are held so firmly in the atmosphere of expectation that nothing can dim their vision or steal their passion.
And in the end, the prisoner of hope is the only person who is ultimately free.