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Hopelessness and Despair

“My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.” Job 17:11
Oswald Chambers says that this verse “is unequalled in any language under heaven” for “unfathomable pathos.”* My life is nearly over and nothing I wanted from life has happened. Life has failed me. There is no hope; only despair.

Have you ever felt this way? I have. Sometimes the pain of living is so overwhelming that death seems to be the only answer. Job himself said he wished he had never been born. What do we do when we find ourselves at the bottom of the barrel with no way out? Where can we find hope? Job asks this very question: “Who can see any hope for me?”

We know from the end of the story that there was hope. All his possessions were doubled, his seven children replaced with seven more and his life extended so that he lived to see his great-great grandchildren. God vindicated him. But what about us? What do we do in the midst of our despairing hopelessness? We can’t see the end. We don’t know how things will turn out. Our cries for mercy seem to echo against the walls of our canyon with no response.

In Job’s next speech we will see where he found hope and where we too can find it. Until we find a reason for hope, we sit in our darkness and wait.

Lord, when despair comes upon me and I see no way out, help me sit and wait in quiet patience.


*p.68, “Baffled to Fight Better,” The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers

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