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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hope for a Season of Soul-Sinking Despair

MEETING a mentor down at Rockingham foreshore on a bitterly cold winter’s night.  We chatted for two hours.  I felt no better when we finished than when we’d started, but I did have some food for thought regarding the next steps to take in what had become my disastrous life.
It was 2004 and I’d become victim of a marriage break-up beyond my control.
I left that meeting, my fingers aching because of the cold, yet my fingers might as well have been in a furnace compared with the ache in my heart.  I felt, at this stage, eight months down the track, as if I’d made precisely no progress.  Zilch.  Nada.  I felt I was back at square one.
I arrived home that night and went upstairs in my townhouse and had a bath, just to warm up.  I was so beside myself with despair I wondered about falling asleep in the bath — just sinking under the water.  It would fix this treacherous anguish that ravished my heart.  I was in a really dark place.
That night was like so many back in that day, but so many of those nights were different, though equivalently desolate.  I got out of the bath and walked into my bedroom, still wet, and flopped onto the bed, slunk down into the covers, and just sobbed.
That night I was broken once again — my defences of pride were smashed again to smithereens.  Anguish covered my whole demeanour, and pain etched its way through every neuron of my consciousness.  I blubbered my guts out.  I howled.  I wailed.  My face and eyes ached and I cared not an iota.
I wrote in my journal, around that time, “Do you know that the emptiness of separation never really leaves.”  I couldn’t see any hope at all.
***
And yet, the truth is, there is hope.  There is a tomorrow.
The Bible is true in the hope it expounds.  We can trust it because it’s true to life in the experience of many who’ve gone before us.  But we have to trust it.  Now, with that said, I feel despair has an important function to break us, unless if that breaking involves self-harm.  It didn’t for me, and ultimately, eventually, I prospered, but many people are less fortunate.
These are my observations for hope during a season of soul-stirring despair:
The harder a day is, the more we lament, the less we resist denying our despair, the more God can use our pain.
What feels utterly hopeless is turned to good provided we continue to wrestle.
The greatest hope in despair is that it doesn’t kill us, and when the sun rises the next day, the despair is not the same.
So hold on in your despair.  Life will turn around if you don’t give up.
God rewards us ultimately for our enduring of despair.

© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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