What Does The Bible Say About Despair

This is why a Christian can live in the world with hope.

When we look around at the world it seems to be filled with despair. There is so much division, so much anger and hatred expressed and displayed, both in the world and in the church. Life has become cheap at every level, from the womb to the tomb. One might be tempted to be overwhelmed with that same sense of despair.

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But despair is antithetical to the Christian worldview. Yes, we know ourselves as sinners, we see the effects of sinful behaviors and choices throughout scripture and human history, and in our own times. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we know our own sinful failures to live up to the life-giving and liberating wisdom of God’s law of love. And yet, Isaiah proclaims to us (and Jesus reiterates in the synagogue in Lk 4:19), “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve, 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” (61:2-3).

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As Isaiah suggests to us in the quote above, let us learn to look for the beauty around us, rather than the ashes, let us learn to focus on our gladness for God’s many graces, instead of mourning, let us learn to give our attention to praising God for all of his blessings instead of wasting our energies on despair.

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Why? Because we have seen the face of God and we know the true depths of his unconditional love, mercy, and kindness toward us. We know this because it was made flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Though we were in sin, he loved us with an unquenchable love, which he made manifest through his self-sacrificing death on the cross. In this singular act of love, the doors of Paradise were opened to us once again. Though the world may seem lost in despair, we know that Jesus is the reason for our hope. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you…” (Jn 15:9). If we remain in his love, his love will remain with us. This is why a Christian can live in the world with hope.

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