We understand so much more nowadays about depression and despair.
What I have found helpful since my youth is the story from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrims Progress.”
“Pilgrim’s Progress” is about the journey of life; an allegory with the main character, named Christian.
Christian and one of his traveling companions, “Hopeful,” unfortunately leave the Kings highway to travel on a much easier “By-Path.” They find a beautiful “meadow,” but a storm forces them to seek shelter and spend the night. In the morning they are captured by Giant Despair who owns the meadow. Both travelers are taken to Doubting Castle, where they are imprisoned, beaten and starved. Giant Despair wants them to commit suicide, but just before they give up, Christian realizes he has the key; a key called Promise that will open all the doors and gates of Doubting Castle. Using the key, they escape. The promises of God are sure and true. Connecting to God, and putting our focus on trusting in God’s faithfulness will carry us through the darkest night. The Psalmist from the Hebrew Bible declares when the enemy comes in like a flood, God will lift up a standard. If you find you’re dealing with despair, I encourage you to seek help; the key is just one step away. That help may come from health professionals, clergy, the Bible and through fellow believers. The key is trusting in the faithfulness of God who will bring healing and wholeness.
Peter Hawker, First United Methodist Church, Anniston
Apply the word of God to hurdles
God created us to live in peace and harmony with Him, our environment and one another. Our brain is not designed to harbor negativity, therefore when trauma or tragedy occur our neurons or nerve cells create inroads to store our thoughts that influence our attitudes and actions. So, how can I, a person of faith, overcome feelings of despair? Instead of only pursuing intellectual, medical or psychological solutions, practically applying the word of God to life’s hurdles changes the flow of energy and time. Proverbs 18:21 is clear that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit,” while 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 gives us the method we need to overcome despair and defeat, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Man’s rational ability limits understanding of the universe as intelligent, loving and harmonious. It is through resolving issues that we grow spiritually. Hardship, joy and temptation challenge the human spirit to prove itself. Every chain of events has divine significance and nothing happens that does not have a role in accomplishing destiny.
Beverly Mattox, Word Alive International Outreach