Despondency

Mark Batterson writes: ‘Sometimes a closed door is the very thing that gets us where God wants us to go. I’ve come to think of closed doors as divine detours. And while our failed plans can be incredibly discouraging and disorienting, God often uses the things that seem to be taking us off our course to keep us on His course. (…) If you feel like you are stuck in a [rut], here’s my advice: give Jesus complete editorial control over your life. You have to quit trying to write your own story. And you need to accept Jesus not only as Lord and Saviour but also as Author. (…) God is far more concerned with your future than you are. We put so much pressure on ourselves, as if the eternal plans of God are contingent upon our ability to decipher them. The truth is God wants to reveal them more than we want to know them. And if we think one misstep can frustrate the providential plans on the Omnipotent One, then our God is way too small. Not only does God want us to get where God wants us to go but He is awfully good at getting us there. He may not always reveal His plans or how or when we want Him to. But when we chase the Holy Spirit our future becomes His responsibility. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

Do me a favour: Stop reading for a moment and take a deep breath. Now let it out. [Let go, let God.] God is in the business of positioning us in the right place at the right time. And that ought to give us an unshakeable sense of destiny even when we feel disoriented.

God is setting up divine appointments all the time. And as long as our motives stay pure and our spirits stay sensitive, He will make sure we meet the right people at the right time. That ought to buoy our spirits even when it feels like the ship is sinking! Pray for divine appointments all the time.

You never know how or where the Holy Spirit is going to reveal His plans. One trip, one meeting, one article, one class, one conversation can radically change the trajectory of your life. (…) What is required is a moment by moment sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. And you have to trust His promptings more than you trust your own plans. Instead of getting frustrated by fighting the wind, appreciate the fact that something uncontrollable and unpredictable will get you to where God wants you to go. (…) If you lose everything else, don’t lose you sense of humour. A sense of humour can get you through just about anything. I’m convinced that the healthiest and holiest people are the people who laugh the most. (…) All we can do is plant and water. God is the one who gives the increase. (…) Learn to enjoy the journey. (…) You have two options when you don’t like your circumstances: complain about them or make the most of them. (…) It doesn’t matter how long the delay or detour, God can make them work together for good.’

Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase, 2008, Colorado USA, Multnomah Books, Chapter 6, p.122-142

‘God, Forgive Me When I Whine’

Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her, she seemed so happy – I wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one leg and wore a crutch; but as she passed… a smile!
Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs. The world is mine.

I stopped to buy some sweets, from a lad who had such charm.
I talked with him, he seemed so glad – being late would do no harm.
And as I left he said to me, “Thank you. You’ve been so kind.”
“It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes. The world is mine.

Later, while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play – he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment, then I said, “Why don’t you join the others, dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh, God forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears. The world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go,
With eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
With ears to hear what I would know,
Oh, God forgive me when I whine.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine. (Anon)

I have laboured to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due to me is in the LORD’S hand, and my reward is with my God.

Isaiah 49:4

“Never let the sense of failure corrupt new action.”

Oswald Chambers

Don’t seek to make others miserable: ‘Let all bitterness…be put away from you.’ Ephesians 4:31 NKJV

‘In 1882 a New York businessman named Joseph Richardson owned a narrow strip of land on Lexington Avenue. It was five feet wide and 104 feet long. Another businessman, Hyman N. Sarner, owned a normal sized plot adjacent to Richardson’s skinny one. He wanted to build apartments that fronted the avenue, so he offered Richardson a thousand dollars for the slender plot. Richardson was deeply offended by the low offer and demanded five thousand dollars. Sarner refused, and Richardson called him a miser and slammed the door on him. Sarner assumed the land would remain vacant and instructed the architect to design the apartment building with windows overlooking Richardson’s land. But when Richardson saw the finished building, he resolved to block the view; no one was going to enjoy a free view over his plot! So 75-year-old Richardson built an apartment building on it, five feet wide, 104 feet long, and four storeys high. Upon completion he and his wife moved in. Only one person at a time could ascend the stairs or pass through the hallway. The dining table was eighteen inches wide. A newspaper reporter of some girth once got stuck in the stairwell, and after two tenants were unsuccessful in pushing him free he exited only by stripping down to his undergarments. The building was dubbed ‘the spite house’. Richardson and his wife spent the last fourteen years of his life there. In 1915 it was torn down. Bitterness builds a lonely house with only enough space for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: make someone miserable. They do. Themselves!’

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 9/12/2018

‘Disappointment – His appointment,’
Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing,
Tho’ it may be in disguise,
For the end from the beginning
Open to His wisdom lies.

‘Disappointment – His appointment,’
No good will He withhold,
From denials oft we gather
Treasures of His love untold.
Well He knows each broken purpose
Leads to fuller, deeper trust,
And the end of all His dealings
Proves our God is wise and just.

‘Disappointment – His appointment,’
Lord, I take it, then, as such,
Like clay in the hands of a potter,
Yielding wholly to Thy touch.
My life’s plan in Thy moulding;
Not one single choice be mine;
Let me answer, unrepining –
‘Father, not my will, but Thine.’

Source: Dr Neil T. Anderson, Victory Over The Darkness, p.138-139

“If we were never depressed we should not be alive; it is the nature of a crystal never to be depressed. A human being is capable of depression; otherwise there would be no capacity for exaltation.”

Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, (2000 edition), Worcester: Oswald Chambers Publications, p.54

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Rick Warren comments: ‘For many years I never understood that verse, because I didn’t know what a yoke was. When Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you,” it sounded to me like he was going to give me something else to deal with. My burden is already heavy enough, Lord. I don’t need to take your problems on me, too.

A yoke is actually a board that has two arches in it that you put over two cattle so they can pull a cart. The value of a yoke is that it halves the load. Without a yoke, one cow’s got to pull that entire load by itself. But if you yoke up the cow with another cow, then the two cows pull the load together, and the load is half as heavy.

When Jesus says to take his yoke upon you, he’s not saying he’s going to give you his problems. Jesus doesn’t have any problems! He’s saying he’s going to share your problems. He’s going to share your load. He’s going to take your stress on himself and bear it with you. Wow!

He uses three verbs in this verse: come, learn, and take. Jesus says, “Come to me. Team up with me. Then, learn how I do it. Take on a lighter load. This is going to reduce your stress. This is going to make it easier for you to navigate.” When you’re yoked with Christ, you move together with him. You move in the same direction and at the same speed. And you move in the right direction and at the right speed.

Rick Warren, Daily Hope devotional (accessed 02/02/2018)

In Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the story is told of how the main character, Christian, travels through a place called, ‘The Slough of Despond,’ on his way to the ‘Celestial City.’ On his journey Christian meets a man in an iron cage and inquires of him, “What art thou?” In response the caged man answers, “I am now a man of despair, and I am shut up in it, as in this iron cage. I cannot get out, O now I cannot.” The caged man goes on to say, “I am what I was not once.” That’s such a vivid and accurate description of what despondency is like; an iron cage holding you prisoner.

Despondency is the means by which animal trainers teach elephants to stay put and stop them from trying to escape. As an infant, the elephant is tied to a stake in the ground by securing a heavy iron chain around the elephant’s foot. Try as it might, the young elephant is not strong enough to break the chain and free itself. Eventually, after many painful attempts, the elephant becomes so discouraged that it finally succumbs to despair and gives up, never to try again. From then on, even as a fully-grown adult measuring around 11 feet in height and weighing up to 4 tons, the elephant can be secured by only a thin rope and it will never again try to escape, (too many painful memories!)

In reality, of course, a fully grown elephant could very easily escape if it really wanted to but the fact is, the elephant is conditioned to think that it can’t free itself and so it no longer bothers to try. In other words, the elephant doesn’t know any better. Don’t allow despondency to trap you into thinking you’ll never escape. You can and will. Just keep going.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Maximize Your Potential

I have an old pair of prayer walking boots that I’ve kept as a visual aid to spur people on in the Christian walk. One of the boots in called ‘Trust’ and the other is called ‘Obey’. They are tied together because they are the left and right boots of the Christian life. – Trust and obey. God will bring you through.

You can be a victim of life or a victor of life. The choice is yours. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you choose to react to what happens that determines the role of ‘victim’ or ‘victor’.

The function of the yoke is to make the burden easier to carry. I love the way Eugene Peterson translates this passage (Matthew 11:28-30) in The Message: ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’

INVITATION: Misery requests the pleasure of your company. RSVP.

“Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD ALMIGHTY.

Malachi 3v7

‘Breathe on me, breath of God’: Think about Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37): the bones were dead and in disarray. If that describes your life right now, there’s good news. When God breathed into those bones they came to life, stood up, and became a force to be reckoned with. (…) Notice also that when the Spirit of God came into Ezekiel’s valley, broken things were mended and dead things brought back to life. And God wants to do the same for you! Notice what else took place: a ‘rattling’ (Ezekiel 37:7 NKJV). That’s standard procedure with God. Before he uses you, he shakes up your comfort zone, your proven methods, and your set-in-concrete ideas. Your past is no problem for him, because his eyes are on your future. So come into his presence today and pray, ‘Breathe on me, breath of God. Fill me with life anew.

Bob Gass

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 2/7/2019

“Let thy discontents be thy secret; – if the world knows them ’twill despise thee and increase them.”

Benjamin Franklin.

‘Solitude’
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone,
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air,
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all, –
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, it helps you to live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“The most selfish man in the world is the one who is most unselfish with his sorrows. He does not leave a single misery untold to you, or un-suffered by you. He gives you all of them. The world becomes to him a dumping ground of his private cares, worries and trials.”

William George Jordan (1864-1928), writer

“When you bend to help lift another to their feet, you can’t help but lift yourself at the same time.”

R. Ian Seymour

Our disappointments are God’s appointments. How, then, should we deal with them?

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Psalm 51:8

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with loving kindness.

I will build you up again

and you will be rebuilt.”

Jeremiah 31:3-4

“Do not be tempted to give up on God on the pretext that he has apparently given up on you. Beware of satanic trickery. Remember God is faithful.”

Bay Warburton

Psalm 13: A Psalm of David, King of Israel (1010-970 B.C.)

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

for he has been good to me.

Trust in the Lord, and keep on keeping on… God will bring you through your trouble. Your testing will become your testimony.

When he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Job 23:10

When depressed remember this: Even through the thickest, darkest clouds the sun is still shining brightly. We just have to persevere and keep on climbing until eventually we will break through the clouds and back into the glorious sunshine again!

Days of darkness still come o’er me;

Sorrow’s path I often tread:

But the Saviour still is with me,

By His hand I’m safely led.

Francis H. Rawley (1854-1952), from ‘<i>I Will Sing The Wondrous Story’</i>

In the Leaning Tower of Pisa there is a spiral staircase which has such a steep gradient that only one step at a time is revealed as you climb it. As each step is taken so the next one comes into view and this continues until you finally reach the top. Sometimes life is like that: We just have to look up, keep climbing and take each day one step at a time.

“The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

[God] will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Psalm 102:17

The Solitary Way

There is a mystery in human hearts,
And though we be encircled by a host
Of those who love us well and are beloved,
To every one of us, from time to time,
There comes a sense of utter loneliness.
Our dearest friend is “stranger” to our joy,
And cannot realise our bitterness.
“There is no one who really understands,
No one to enter into all I feel;”
Such is the cry of each one of us in turn
We wander in a “solitary way.”
No matter what or where our lot may be,
Each heart, mysterious even to itself,
Must live its inner life in solitude.
And would you know the reasons why this is?
It is because the Lord desires our love,
In every heart He wishes to be first,
He therefore keeps the secret key himself,
To open all chambers and to bless
With perfect sympathy and holy peace,
Each solitary soul which comes to Him.
And when beneath some heavy cross you faint,
And say, “I cannot bear this load alone,” you say the truth.
God made it purposely
So heavy that you must return to him,
The bitter grief, which “no one understands,”
Conveys a secret message from the King,
Entreating you to come to him again.
You cannot come too often or too near.
The God of Mercy is infinite in grace,
His presence satisfies the longing soul
And those who walk with Him from day to day
Can never have “a solitary way.”

Anon.

Things have become that bad where I live that even the Samaritans have gone ex-directory!

How to Be Cheerful

How to be cheerful, do you say,
When the wind is cold and the skies are grey?
How to be cheerful? Just one way:
Forget yourself for a while today.

Never mind self and your irksome cares.
Somebody else greater burden bears.
Stretch out a helping hand and play
The friend to all who may chance your way.

You’ll never be cheerful sitting there
Sorrowing over the hurts you bear,
For never a joyous hour is known
By the man who thinks of himself alone.

How to be cheerful? Scatter cheer;
Share your life with your neighbours here;
Encourage the weary and comfort the sad
And you’ll find more joy than you’ve ever had.

Edgar A. Guest

“Why are thou disquieted; because it happeneth not to thee according to thy wishes and desires? Who is he that hath everything according to his will? Neither I, nor thou, nor any man upon the earth.”

Thomas á Kempis (?1380-1471), German Augustine monk