The Bible is full of stories about people who experienced brokenness while being challenged at their very core. The Christian life is certainly not free from hardship and suffering. On the contrary, life in Christ is full of all the demands that the rest of the world faces, and all of the challenges and trials of spiritual and church life.
Where are you feeling the pull of defeat and desperation? Do you feel like packing it in, hanging it up, and calling it quits?
Consider a few desperate moments:
- You just received a cancer diagnosis.
- Your singleness feels like a curse, not a calling or a season.
- Your spouse is ready to end your marriage.
- You received another “Not Pregnant” message.
- You have just visited another explicit website.
- Your grown child has walked away from the faith.
- You don’t know how you finished an entire bottle of wine.
- You love your special needs child, but you’re overwhelmed and exhausted.
- Your debt continues to grow, and no one knows you’re in trouble.
What do we do in these dark times? Where can we find hope in our desperation?
Hope in Our Desperation
“There is something about a desperate moment—a cold, pitch-black moment when all hope seems lost—that causes us to call out God’s name in distress. In that moment of desperation, when you feel like things are out of your control and there is nothing you can do, there is a profound opportunity.”
These desperate moments feel like the lowest points of life. But could they often be gifts from a good and loving God?
“The point of defeat—the urge to throw up your hands and surrender—seems like the most desolate corner of creation. It actually places you in prime position to experience God’s strength and provision, because, as it turns out, God is drawn to the desperate. If you trace this idea in Scripture, you’ll find that God’s deliverance often follows closely upon a time of desperation. His blessing tends to fall upon a condition of brokenness. Throughout history, his most powerful servants have all come from a place of desolation and defeat.”
In these desperate moments, we need to turn back to the Scriptures. And I don’t mean for “everything will work out” platitudes. We need the dark, gritty, brutally honest tales of women and men who lost it all and cried out to God in language unfit for Sunday school classrooms.
God’s Ordinary, Broken Heroes
Think about the heroes of the Old Testament—especially those described in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith—and what they have in common.
Noah faced ridicule from his neighbors for building a massive boat in the middle of a desert. As if that wasn’t enough, he then faced the desperation of watching his community drown while he and his family trusted in God while tossing and turning on the waves. Where was God in all this?
Abraham and Sarah spent most of their lives childless, and even after God’s promise, remained barren for several more decades. They traveled for years, looking for land they couldn’t be certain even existed. Where was God in all this?
Jacob deceived his family members on several occasions and discovered that his brother, a mighty warrior, was hunting him. In the dark, he was accosted by a mysterious man who wrestled him into submission. Where was God in all this?
Moses was a murderer with poor speech, an Israelite in Egyptian country, and yet God used him to free his people. But as Israel journeyed into the wilderness, the people complained, blamed Moses, and longed to return to slavery. Where was God in all this?
“When you find yourself in a desperate place and there is no way out…
When all your options have been exhausted and there is nowhere left to turn…
When it seems like your only play is to give up…
You may receive life’s greatest blessing in life’s most frightening backdrop.”
Embracing the Desperation
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you’re facing desperation, embrace it.
When you feel like all hope is lost, and you’re surrounded by opposition and resistance, take heart. This is the exact sort of moment when God loves to break through.
You are not alone. The women and men of the Old Testament call out to you: Keep going! God will show up! Don’t give up!
God’s victory often looks like a defeat at first. His ways often seem like foolishness to our world. His deliverance can sometimes feel like desperation. But consider one last witness—the ultimate witness.
Humanity’s Darkest Moment
When Jesus went to the cross for our sins, it was humanity’s darkest moment. Less than a week after the people welcomed him and celebrated him on Palm Sunday, one of his own disciples sold him out.
Jesus was arrested and falsely charged. There was no case against him, but the crowd shouted for his death. He was mocked, beaten, and whipped; he was led outside the city to his place of execution. They hung him on the cross and watched him die.
At that moment, all hope seemed lost. We thought this man would save us, they would have wondered. Were we wrong about him? Where is God in all this?
When Jesus was on the cross, darkness fell over the land. It was a level of desperation that creation had never seen. And yet still, it wasn’t the end of the story.
On the following Sunday morning, women visited his tomb and were greeted only by angels. The disciples raced in only to discover that there was no body in the tomb. When they gathered to discuss these things, our risen Lord came and met among them. He has risen!
From desperation comes deliverance. From the darkness comes pure light. Out of death comes life.
These are God’s ways. Don’t give up! *
* Adapted from Days 8 and 11 in the Don’t Give Up Study Journal.
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