When we cling to despair

I’m not good enough for this





      “Christian” title… 

Insecurities that root me in my anxieties and feelings of inadequacies layer one after another. They submerge my heart and mind under crashing waves of deep sorrow, attempting to numb me to my festering inner wounds. These attempts, however, do not change the fact that the hurt builds up. It hugs me tighter and tighter, choking me without me realizing. One moment I’m smiling and the next I feel like I can’t breathe, that every part of my soul and body are weighed down by these negative thoughts and feelings.

My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?” 
-Psalm 42:3

The thing about suffering is that it can easily become what we identify as. I am that anxiety, I am those fears, I am those insecurities, I am despair. Not only does this mindset confine us to our own thoughts, causing us to be trapped in a cycle of despair, but it also makes us want to cover up all those “weaknesses”. 

And it’s so easy. 

In these moments when we feel most alone, when we have forgotten how to trust in others and most importantly God, it feels quite natural to settle in the deep pit of despair. We can hide the ugliness of our hearts by pushing people away and “rescheduling”, or completely avoiding time with God. However, at the end of the day, we are simply left in an empty room with lonely thoughts and growing stones in our hearts. 

A lump in my throat forms, shoving the words and feelings I want to express down my overflowing heart. A smile instinctively covers the raging war within me. I do not want to face myself right now. Let’s do it tomorrow. Or never. Just close yourself off. It’ll be fine. It’s easier this way.

In the midst of cycles of sadness, there often comes a self-realization of the state we are in: we see the mess and the harmful habits that we have formed. But it’s still so easy, so simple, to lock ourselves in the room all alone again. We justify our pain and lack of growth by continually harboring a dissatisfied heart; our eyes are solely focused on our well-being, on how well others treat us, whether we are being loved rightly—the list goes on. 

This is not to diminish how overwhelming the pain can be. There is such deep suffering that swallows the mind and requires processing and/or professional treatment. Even King David, the renowned faithful servant king of Israel, cried out to God in pain, asking “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:9). 

However, the refusal to face our inner battles and become vulnerable with ourselves and others comes from the pride in our hearts that desires a perfect outward appearance. Pride wants to make us feel strong and self-sufficient, thinking we don’t need to rely on God. And without the humility to seek outside intervention, we stay this way, becoming slaves to our emotions.

“Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” 
-Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

Relationships can provide the safety, warmth, and strength to keep up with life, especially during hardships. This safety is not rooted in insecurities and lazy pride, but rather in honesty, compassion and the love of Christ. Alone, you have no one to lean on, no one to give you an outside perspective, and no one to speak God’s truth directly to your heart. 

As Christians, we are called to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25) and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), which requires us to be vulnerable about our struggles and have the strength to carry those of our friends. Pride can fight so hard to keep our mouths and hearts shut because even the utterance of a word, a slight crack in the heart, can lead to the breakdown of the walls we put around ourselves. Nevertheless, relationships rooted in the truth, compassion, and love of Christ are precious gifts that we should not neglect to seek out. 

Although there is much value in the sharing and building up of one another in a body of believers, there is also the danger of placing all our trust in the people themselves. We are all mere flowers fading in the wind, sinners in need of a Savior (Isaiah 40:6-7; Romans 3:10-12). Thus, our only source of unshakeable peace is otherworldly: in Christ alone.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.” 
-Psalm 42:1-2

Only He can fulfill our needs and carry our burdens in a perfect manner that will satisfy our souls. Neither laughter nor hard work nor wealth nor honor nor wisdom will give our lives meaning, nor will they be the lasting solution we had imagined for our inner turmoil (Ecclesiastes 2:2, 15, 22-23; 5:10). 

Coming to our Creator and truly being present with Him requires a humility that may vary in form and expression from person to person. Personally, I have found that humbling myself before the Lord means surrendering my present, competing worries and hurts to Him. To simply be still before Him means to know His ways are higher, to believe His plans are greater and are taking place in my life right now, and to trust that He will complete His transforming work in me. Humility means fully acknowledging that I. Need. Him. Completely, and desperately. There can be no pride in that. There is no facade of happiness and perfection. And that is what God desires, for “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). 

Every time I come crying and crawling to Him, I am met with eyes that run to me, that have already seen my hidden pain and sorrow. I am met with unconditional love that cannot be found anywhere else. 

Let us cling to the One who stripped Himself of all His deserved glory, who endured the beatings, mockings, and scornings, who was slain in our place, that we might have perfect communion and everlasting peace with the Father. Let us take captive our every thought and emotion to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and hold onto the promises that God will fulfill in His perfect timing. I do not expect us to let go of our pain and hurts within a blink of an eye, nor within a few days or months or even years. But I encourage us, when we are in the midst of suffering, to look to Jesus, think of Him, seek to know Him and find greater joy in the eternal promises of God.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace”[1]

 [1] Lemmel, Helen Howarth, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” (1922)

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