The events of the last few months have worn me down. We seem to be living in an onslaught of horrible events, injustices, and a chronic condition of Covid fatigue. The continual stress of these circumstances and recent unrest has felt like a weight pressing down with no near sign of relief. I have to admit, my sleep has been disturbed, and frankly, so has my peace. I’ve struggled the last few weeks to regain perspective on what God wants from me during this time, because I’m pretty sure it’s not sleeplessness and worry. In fact, we’re told over thirty times in the Bible not to worry, so there must be another plan for when we enter into times of despair. I believe the antidote for despair is to delight.
I know this sounds crazy, or at best counter-intuitive. Despair and delight are antonyms and couldn’t possibly land in the same sentence. That’s how God works though isn’t it? The first will be last and the last will be first. The foolish will be wise and the wise, foolish. Give so you’ll receive. Lose your life to find it, and many more. God is the original paradox, so why shouldn’t He want us to delight through despair?
I’ve written before about gratitude being the precursor to peace. God put that conviction on my heart back then, and I believe He is doing it again by bending my thoughts toward delighting. On quick glance, gratitude and delight sound similar, but there’s a nuance I haven’t picked up on before. Gratitude is an indicator of appreciation; delight indicates being well pleased. God’s word says that He wants both. When I think about it I want both too. I don’t want to just be appreciated, I want to be delighted in by those who love me. Delighting means that you trust in the object of your delight, and you believe that it is wholly good. So what does this have to do with despair?
The short answer is when we delight in God, we’re staking our belief that He is wholly good, and that we trust in His providence, even if we’re hurting. This will ebb away at despair (Isaiah 58:14; Psalm 119:92-93). Despair is akin to desperateness and hopelessness, which cannot coexist with delighting. One will overtake the other; it’s a matter of focus. I don’t say this lightly; I know it’s hard to summon delight when hurts are running deep. Choosing to delight in the Lord requires intentionality, and a willingness to see beyond our circumstances. Below are some ideas on how to do this in small steps.
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). This is huge. We have to be able to hear His voice, and create space for His Spirit to enter into our minds. There is such a chaotic rumble that we’re daily bombarded with that can easily drown out the comfort He wants to give us. I encourage you to put the phone down, turn off the news, and find a quiet place to be still. Just breathe, and invite Him in. He promises to be near the brokenhearted, and not to forsake us when we seek Him.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1). Before we can delight in God, we have to be able to see who He is. He reveals His character everywhere; He is the light in darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6). When the darkness of despair threatens to overcome you, actively seek out signs of God’s glory. There are examples all around: in a starry night, the laugh of a child, the detailed intricacies of a flower, an ocean wave, the touch of a loved one, a helping hand, a cooling breeze, or a beautiful melody. As we see even the smallest examples of His glory and love, it opens the eyes of our heart to recognize just how much good there is still to delight in.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Declaration is an important element of faith; it’s a statement of personal truth. We know we will be shook in our lives, but truth cannot be shook; it’s an absolute. This is where we anchor during times of despair. Tell yourself, a friend, a mate, even God himself in prayer, what He has done for you, and what you believe He will continue to do. This is where faith becomes real. It’s your conviction in the deliverance of things hoped for, but not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1). That is what we delight in: that God is good, and at no point will His sovereignty fail. He tells us in no uncertain terms how to gain peace. Holding on to His word will shift your focus away from despair, and towards a peace that passes understanding.
It’s understandable to be grieving right now, and feeling some despair. Even Noah, Paul, David, and the prophets of the Old Testament saw the state of their lives and cultures and grieved. In their despair they also came to know that refocusing on God, and His power, honor, might, and glory, was the only way through. He is faithful to meet you where you are. Lay your burdens at His feet, and believe that you will be restored. If you need help, we’re here to walk alongside you. You can find us at (225) 314-4147.