1. loss of hope; hopelessness.
2. someone or something that causes hopelessness
3. to lose, give up, or be without hope
4. to give up hope of.
When I looked up the definition of despair, I expected to see “hope” listed as an antonym, but I did not expect EVERY definition I read in 3 different dictionaries to refer directly to lack or loss of hope.
Check out THIS definition of despair:
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:
"Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
Yep. I’m pretty sure that’s despair right there. It may not fit a dictionary definition, but I think we can all agree that it fits our HEART-definition.
What makes me love this Psalm so much is the sudden shift of events that occurs as the Psalm continues:
Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.
Suddenly, Hope enters the scene. And Hope doesn’t just subtly slide in the back door… She (He?) makes a grand entrance as phrase after phrase for the next 11 verses recall the great deeds of God.
I LOVE my study Bible’s note on these verses:
Faith’s decision to look beyond the present troubles—and God’s bewildering inactivity—to draw HOPE anew from God’s saving acts of old.
When we get caught in looking in just the here and now, despair can quickly overwhelm us. But, with the Psalmist, when we take a moment to step back and reflect on… to appeal to God’s faithfulness in the past, we are able to take a step forward into the unknown future with renewed hope.
One of the last verse of the Psalm says this:
Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters though your footprints where not seen. (vs 19)
God’s leading us… we may not see his footsteps, but we can trust that he is there.
So, take a minute to stop… look back… where have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life so far? Now take comfort (hope) in the fact that our God never changes and just as he has been faithful in the past, he will continue to be faithful…. forever.
May you “draw HOPE anew” this day as you “remember the deeds of the Lord”.