“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.“
2 Corinthians 1:8
“…we should all fortify ourselves against the dark hours of depression by cultivating a deep distrust of the certainties of despair. Despair is relentless in the certainties of its pessimism. But we have seen again and again, from our own experience and others’, that absolute statements of hopelessness that we make in the dark are notoriously unreliable. Our dark certainties are not sureties.”
It is my ‘deliberateness’, and not my impulsiveness that scares me. I know ‘despair’. I know what it is like to be ‘backed into a corner’ and then feel the empty desperation of being lost. But you must understand, there can be a weird seductiveness to ‘being lost’, a ‘strange sort of nobility’, a twisted honor, when it comes to despair.
Piper talks about the ‘dark certainties’ of knowing you are lost. Now this really seems rather bizarre, that people could do this intentionally, without duress. But I’m afraid to tell you that it happens all the time. Despair is chosen over the option of life. This is the ‘lostness’ of the race of Adam.
Pop culture has given us words, albeit in a rather simplistic form. I just happened to think right now of an old AC/DC song, ‘Highway to Hell‘. The lyrics are pretty basic, very simple, but the lead singer seems to really have a chronically, decided dedication to being one of the irretrievably lost. He formats a ‘certain glory’ to being part of the damned. This is a simplistic approach to the next stop– a more advanced case of stark-white despair, suicide. (We can call this ‘spiritual hubris,’ or even, “sex, drugs, and rock-n-rollism.”)
In examining the striated world of despair, we come to the interesting place where our foolishness combined with our arrogance produces a decision to be lost. Of course, our fear of God must be extracted from the situation. But for the eager candidate for despair, this is not an insurmountable problem.
Escaping this ‘drowning despair’ we must first dethrone our right to personal sovereignty. And secondly, we need to grab the concept that God’s grace has an ultimate power that supersedes our notions of a ‘deserved’ love. (It is completely undeserved). We must believe that somehow, someway God chooses us out of a pile, a pile of the worst and ugliest. And somehow, He delights in doing this, and after all, He is the Lord.
We are meant to be the people of redemptive hope.
Because of our problems, our addictions, we must clearly renounce our evil folly of despair. These are the issues that make us vulnerable. There is a seductiveness to ‘giving up’ and taking up the sin of despair. There can be a ‘weird romance’ that lures those who ‘walk out lostness’. We are pulled into a vortex of an exotic melancholy with a dash of fatalism, which makes it reasonable and weirdly heroic in some perverse way.
But is it not even more heroic to live in hope?
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.”