It will go down in history as perhaps mankind’s most bizarre year. Never has the entire globe in unison shut down because of a virus. Restrictions in travel, work, recreation, size of gatherings etc., have ruined businesses, increased the number of suicides and deaths for those with other ailments who cannot be hospitalized, amped fear to unprecedented levels, and created a huge divide in opinion over what should or should not be done. Meanwhile political unrest, rolling waves of violence, storms and disasters add to the cacophony of 2020.
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.
Alex is a high school student in Vancouver, Washington. One day he was driving on a job when he was rear-ended by another driver. Alex took a photo of the man’s driver’s license so he could report it to his insurance company. He noticed that the man held a commercial license. In conversing with him he found out that he was married and a father and that this was his second accident in less than a month. The man was upset that he had been so careless.
Psalm 85:15--But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth
John George graduated into heaven recently. He was a man for whom I will eternally be grateful. At a time when I was a cocky senior at West Point, he accurately confronted me about pride and forever changed my life. John knew that the Bible warns us in Proverbs 16:18 that “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” His exhortation scared me to death that God would not use me for His kingdom.
Part of the retirement process when leaving the military is to make sure that one’s physical maladies or challenges are all reviewed by the Veterans Administration to determine if the veteran may be owed compensation. I had to undergo a battery of tests to see if past injuries or problems with my Achilles tendon, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, shoulder, hearing, sinuses, hair loss and sleep deprivation were service-related. I was asked all kinds of personal questions by the sleep psych0logist I met with to see if anxiety, depression, any kind of drug or chemical addiction etc. were preventing me from falling asleep. I mentioned multiple times that my problem getting to sleep is lifelong and has to do with an overactive brain that does not shut off easily. I assured her that even though it is a battle for me to rest, I am mostly full of joy and did not blame the military for my condition. I don’t think she was expecting that answer.
Zephaniah 3:15,16--The Lord has removed your punishment; He has turned back your enemy. The King of Israel, Yahweh, is among you; you need no longer fear harm. On that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, do not let your hands grow weak.
What causes people to be downcast? I would surmise in most cases it is because of unfavorable circumstances. We want something that does not materialize. We deal with sickness. An enemy is a relentless grief-flinger. “Sixty students who had attempted suicide were asked why they had wanted to end their lives. The majority, 85 percent, said they had tried to kill themselves because their lives seemed meaningless and without purpose . . . Without purpose we lose motivation and sometimes lose health and even lose life.” Without understanding God’s ever-present love we are destined for despair.
There is a passage in the Talmud that says, “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” It is easy to be pessimistic if our perspective is rooted in the wrong place.
1 Samuel 16:1—The LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”
My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd went missing. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Psalm 145:1—I exalt You my God the King, and praise Your name forever and ever.
Psalm 145 is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. Aside from the eleven different verbs or participles used to praise or recognize God, the entire twenty-one verses are a tribute to God’s greatness. The predominant verb is the word praise (used six times). In addition, the words exalt, honor, declare, proclaim, speak, give a testimony, sing, thank, and informing, are used in the Holman translation. Five times God’s greatness is specifically highlighted.