Praise Defeats Despair

Despair comes when you have continually been disappointed in a certain situation or relationship.  It is the complete loss of hope.  I have been in despair several times in my own life, and I know many others who have as well.

Although the Bible never promises that we will escape having feelings of despair, God does give us a way to overcome it.  Paul, one of the Apostles, felt despair many times during his ministry.  I believe there were times when his past haunted him, and he suffered major persecution.  However, Paul managed to come out of his despair.  We will discuss how he was able to do that.

Troubled on Every Side, Yet Not Distressed

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When the Jewish leaders were not oppressing Paul, one of the churches would be upset with him.  The church in Corinth had issues with him because of gossip that came from other influences.  When you read the books of Corinthians, you will notice that Paul addresses these issues.

Paul knew where hope was.  He knew hope was not even in his ministry.  His hope was in Christ.  Without Christ, his ministry would not be successful.  Without Christ, Paul could not go beyond his past.  Without Christ, Paul would not be preaching the gospel.

Perplexed But Not in Despair

Despair came to Paul on many occasions.  Paul spent time in prison for the sake of the gospel.  He had been beaten and stoned. In one instance, he was left being considered dead.  Despair came, but Paul fought it.  He did not give in to it.  (Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Just because he did not give in to despair does not mean that Paul did not feel despair.  In 2 Corinthians 1:1-9, Paul speaks of despairing of life.  Then, in chapter 4 he says he is perplexed but not in despair.  This leads me to believe that despair came, but Paul pressed past it.  How did he do that?  In Christ alone.

We Do Not Have to Despair

When you read Paul’s epistles, you will notice that he gives praise to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 1, he praises God for being the God of all comfort.  In Ephesians 1, he praises God for spiritual blessings.  In Philippians 4, he speaks of rejoicing. There are other instances of praise in the other epistles.  He did not praise because his troubles were over.  He praised God through those troubles.

You and I can do the same.  When waves of despair seem to wash over us threatening to knock us down and leave us with the inability to get back up, we do not have to give in. We are not without hope.  We have Jesus Christ.  He is hope!  He is our hope.

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No matter how dark your situation is, there is light.  Jesus is the light of the world.  There is no darkness in Him at all.  You can praise Him now because He will get you through your darkest hour.  Do not despair!  You are not without hope.  I am not without hope either.

 

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can have one right now.  Romans 10:9-10 says that if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart, you believe to righteousness and with the mouth confession is made into salvation.  Romans 10:13 tell us that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Erratic Emotions

Emotions are a natural part of our human makeup.  People, particularly women, can experience a variety of emotions in one day.  From elation to depression, our emotions can take us on a wild roller coaster ride through life if we do not find ways to manage them.

Types of Emotions

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Although human beings can experience a wide variety of feelings, some of the most basic types of emotions are happiness, sadness, pride, fear, disgust, anger, surprise, excitement, shame, and embarrassment.  The Bible even speaks of people’s various feelings.  Scripture never promotes suppressing emotions and refusing to deal with them, but we must learn to control them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Happiness is seen as a positive emotion, and there is certainly nothing wrong with being happy.  The problem comes when I expect other people to do for me what only God can do.  What I am about to state is certainly not popular, but the Lord never promised that we would always be happy.  He did, however, promise that we could have joy.

What is the difference between joy and happiness?  Although the two words are used interchangeably, happiness often depends upon circumstances while joy goes much deeper.  The joy we experience from God is a part of the fruit of the Spirit.  In other words, joy is the result of having the Holy Spirit (given to us at salvation).  Happiness can only take me so far, but joy gets me through all circumstances, good or bad.

Fear and anger are considered to be negative emotions.  A healthy fear, such as being afraid to walk out in front of a moving vehicle, is not negative.  It is needful, but a terrifying fear, such as always fearing the future, is not of God.  In fact, His word teaches us to overcome such fears (2 Timothy 1:7, 1 John 4:18).  Anger is not always negative. There are times when we need to have anger in order to act; however, anger that is not dealt with properly is dangerous and leads to other sins.  Anger is another emotion that the Bible teaches us to control (James 1:20, Ephesians 4:26-27, and Proverbs 29:11)

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Emotions Out of Control

I must admit that I have days when I am easily angered, or, my feelings are hurt very easily.  Sometimes, there can be physical explanations such as lack of sleep or hormonal imbalance.  Other times, out-of-control emotions can be a symptom of something that is lacking spiritually.

Earlier, I stated that people often expect others in their lives to make them happy.  I have made the mistake of placing responsibility for my emotional well-being in the hands of my husband, children, friends, or family.  I am certainly not saying that the people in my life do not want me to be happy, but I am saying that it is not their responsibility to manage my emotions.  The responsibility is mine, and the only way I can assume it is to go to God for emotional healing when my feelings seem to be wreaking havoc.

Once you let others off the hook for your emotional stability, and you give this to the Lord, you will begin to see more balanced emotions displayed.  The things that used to irritate you or hurt your feelings will not have as much power over you.

Godly Response

When negative emotions arise, as they often do, you should not suppress them; however, you should not give full vent to them either.  First, go to the Lord in prayer about them.  He is neither surprised nor perplexed by your emotions. Next, find a trusted friend with which to speak.  Ask other believers for prayer.

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Most of all, you need to spend time with God on a daily basis, both in prayer and in His word.  I realize I sound bossy, but, trust me, I have had loads of experience in the emotional realm.  Unfortunately, I have given full vent to my emotions which have never brought about good results.  Thankfully, there are also times I take them to God and ask for His intervention.  The latter choice is always best.

As I mentioned earlier, happiness is a wonderful emotion, but if I believe I must always be on an emotional high, I will eventually bottom out to depression.  Emotions must be stabilized and balanced so as to avoid either extreme on the pendulum swing.  I am not suggesting that managing emotions is an easy feat.  I know better, but I also know that nothing is impossible with God.  He gives us grace for all areas of our lives, including our feelings.