Category Archives: despair

II Corinthians 1:8

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. NIV

I love how The Message translates verse 9, “As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened.  Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally — not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” MSG

Again and again I see it … Trust God!  That is the source of real peace.

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Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  The will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.  NIV

Isaiah was a prophet.  I’ve just finished a 10-week study of the book of Isaiah, and I cherished every minute of it.

These verses are at the heart of this book, I think, because they proclaim the coming of Jesus.  In fact, I learned, Luke records Jesus reading from this passage in the synagogue in Galilee in Luke 4:18.  After Christ reads from Isaiah, he says to those gathered, “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

When I look at these verses through the eyes of my project, the part that jumps out to me is “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  When I looked up the word despair in my Hebrew to English dictionary, it says, “dull, weak, smoldering;” while in contrast, “praise,” is translated “glory.”

When I think more about how the glory of God is described in the Bible, I think that it is often described in terms of bright and burning light.  I love that.

On my own, trapped in my own prison of worldly worries, my spirit will be weak and the light within me, my soul, will merely smolder.  But, when I am united with Christ through his gift of salvation, I am in-dwelt with a fire in my soul that brightly reflects the glory of God.

I also love that this verse calls it a “garment of praise.”  When I think of a garment, it is something that I put on, often to protect me from the things of this world … I put on a coat when it is cold, a raincoat when it rains, etc.

Through Christ, I have been clothed in a glorious garment of praise.  If I am praising God, what is there to worry about?

I am rejoicing in that today.

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2 Corinthians 4:7-9

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. NIV

I’m certain I’ve read these verses before, but, they’ve never struck me as they did this morning.

Paul is writing to the church at Corinth.  And, Paul has real worries.  His life is in danger, frequently; he gets thrown in jail, I’m pretty sure more than once; he has some sort of physical affliction that bothers him; and, above all he has a tremendous, burning mission to share the gospel with as many people as possible in the time that he has on this earth.

It’s that mission that makes the rest of what he’s going through bearable.

But, what I love about this is verse 7.  I love the image of a treasure in a clay pot. My clay pot holds a treasure, too.  God sent His son to die for me, and, the Holy Spirit lives within me.

Storing a treasure in a clay pot is not very sensible.  Pots get dropped, they shatter, they are not water tight and, over time if you leave them outside in a place where the temperature drops below freezing, they will break down.  Once, I picked up a clay pot on my front stoop, and only the top part came up.  The bottom stayed on the ground and all of the dirt spilled out all over my front walk.

I am a clay pot.  And yet, God has seen fit to put His treasure in me, and I am clay, so that I will remember this power to overcome the worries of this world comes from God, and not from me.

I also love the way The Message translates verse 8, “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized;  we’re not sure what to do, but we know God knows what to do.” MSG

God has a purpose for my life.  He did not make me invincible, or impervious to the troubles of this world, but, He has instilled me with all I need to achieve the mission that He has for me.   So, what is there to worry about?

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Filed under despair, II Corinthians, New Testament