Ten times the word despair is used in the Holman Bible. Fittingly Job is the source of one third of them. The Psalmist cried out, “Insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. I waited for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, but found no one” (Psa. 69:20). Despair is the stuff of hopelessness. It is a sinking feeling that saps one’s resolve. If not properly addressed it becomes the lingering glue of gloom.
Chad* called me and asked if I would meet with him and a criminal investigator. When I arrived at the meeting, Chad explained that a former leader, Pat, he had worked with, had moved to his hometown and was lobbying to join a historical organization of which Chad was a member. He then went on to explain how decades earlier, this member had badly hurt him professionally. As he described the events his body stiffened, his face contorted and it was obvious that he was under stress just retelling the story.
Teta peered at us from behind the counter of the small store nested next to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Softly, we asked her if she had experienced the awful slaughtering that began on April 6, 1994 in Rwanda and she nodded her head yes. At the age of six her entire family was massacred. Crazed Hutus began ridding the earth of their Tutsi countrymen. Pastor David asked her if she was able to forgive the perpetrators who made her an orphan. She somberly replied, “Forgiveness is a big word.” Then she explained that 24 years later, she could not forget what was done to her family and to herself and, in that remembering, there was an unwillingness to forgive.
Jim Downing wrote in his book, The Other Side of Infamy, an amazing account of forgiveness. This 104 year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor shared how in 1953 he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander who led the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and, who after the war, became a Christian. It was exceedingly hard for Jim to forgive Fuchida after losing so many shipmates. But he forgave him because it was the right thing to do.
Matthew 6:12—And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Isaiah 40:27-31— Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God.”Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Each year senior military officers attending the Army War College choose a gift to present to the school. Because of differing tastes, this exercise of selecting a gift proves to be the most contentious challenge each class will face. Typically, students pick a reputable artist and commission that artist to paint a historical event the class chooses. Civil war themes are by far the most popular and sell the most prints. One year when the artist revealed his sketch, one southern student on the selection committee complained that there were no confederate soldiers present. Another member objected that no black Americans were depicted. So they sent the artist back to his canvas. Imagine their surprise when the clever painter produced a beautiful portrait of black Union soldiers guarding sullen Confederate prisoners!