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Feelings of Despair

Photo by: Lauren Mitchell

Hopelessness can come from a lot of different directions.

Sometimes an inclination to depressive moods reflects an inherited factor; or changes in our bodies.  Feelings of despair can also reflect real or imagined loss, or the lingering trauma of birth, battle, or accident.

Feeling like we have no hope can also reflect the results of personal choices; failures of faith; or a lack of love… that endures forever.

Because any number of causes may be involved, we need to be so careful that we aren’t too quick to beat ourselves up for our failure to be  grateful for what we have– especially if we’ve already tried that path.

According to both Old and New Testaments of the Bible, even the most faithful friends of God can experience moments or seasons of hopelessness. No less than the Apostle Paul wrote about being overwhelmed by trouble to the point of despairing even of life itself (2Cor 1:8).

Yes, in that same letter, he also wrote about being “Hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed…perplexed, but not in despair “(2Cor 4:8).

…and yet, by his own admission, he also had moments of despair that felt like death to him.

What we get a chance to see is that, looking back, he later found purpose in those terrible moments. In his words, “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.” (vv 9-10)

Seems like this subject that touches so many of us, or those we love, deserves conversation about the dangers of ignoring either physical or spiritual factors in hopelessness…

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40 Responses to “Feelings of Despair”

  1. Ken says:

    Good morning,
    I have not commented here for a very long time and this is not really a comment but a request for prayer. Mart, in reading your post this morning I have to say that this is right where I am today.
    Last week my wife,Toni was diagnosed with breast cancer. She will go for surgery on thursday Aug. 4 to have the breast removed.
    I am going thru the same sort of struggle you have described in your posting.
    She is handling the situation better than I am, I am terrified. I cannot feel God’s presence it’s like He has turned His back on me.I cry out to Him and He does not seem to hear or answer.
    Please could you all pray for us and for me that He will give me the courage I need to be Her support, I feel like such a wimp.
    Thanks for listening.

  2. jon614 says:

    Our prayers form our family will be there for you. All of us need each other’s prayers so often. My older sister’s husband passed away a few months ago and coming up is the 2-year anniversary of the death of her daughter. Her depression is very evident and we pray for her often. Her youngest daughter is quitting her job and moving back home with her mother because as she says, “I can get another job, but I can not get another Mother!” She is going there to help with the depression she sees her mother displaying.
    The blog message by Mart today is so encouraging as it tells us that no one is spared times of depression, not even Paul, who once becoming a child of God, was the staunchest of God’s children. Yet he suffered the same feelings we feel. And yet again, he called for God to be even closer to him so he could trust and be delivered from the negative.
    Words are easy to say, but I know it is not always easy to pull out of the depression. All I can give you to help is to say, “Turn it over to God – pray constantly – be supportive of your wife – and allow God to work within you. He will send a task your way which will pull you from the depths and place you on the rock!”

  3. poohpity says:

    Father, I come to you on behalf of Ken and his wife, help them to trust you in this scary time when answers seem to be so far away and advice seems so worthless. You understand the suffering and confusion but You also know the outcome, give them Your peace and comfort. Help them to see the power of holding each others hand and the power of a hug while they cry in each others arms. Surround them with those who will be gentle, good listeners and with encouraging words of understanding. Please give the doctors wisdom so that this surgery will be successful. Increase their faith so it will be You they trust through this time and depend on your strength when they have none. Thank you Father for the answers to these prayers. It is in your precious Son’s name we pray, Amen.

  4. Ken says:

    To poohpity,
    Thank you.We really appreciate your words.
    Knowing there are people that can put the words together like that is what we need,because at the moment I cannot.

  5. remarutho says:

    Hello Ken and Family —

    I can remember being unable to form the words to pray. May the Lord cover you with his love and care in this season. I pray it is a season of healing.

    Praise is a higher calling, Ken.

    Gracious and holy Lord, please give Ken and his wife deliverance by your might and your faithfulness.

    May they not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday. (Psalm 91:5-6)

    In Him,

  6. poohpity says:

    We feel honored that you shared your need with us.

  7. fiyameta says:

    Poohpity, Amen to your words.
    Ken, May the good Lord put his healing hands on your wife and strengthen you and your family through this hard time.

    God bless you all.

  8. Ken says:

    flyameta and remarutho

    Thank you


  9. foreverblessed says:

    Ken, I pray for you too. We sing songs like these:
    Jesus is all I have,

    but when such a thing happens as to your wife, do we still believe it? I pray that your faith will not fail, that it may be strengthened, that your strength will be stronger in Christ. He is the architect of our lives, He molds everything as He sees best. I pray that you may see that with spiritual eyes. Ephesians 1:18,19,20,21
    May God bless you and your wife in spirit, soul and body, 1 Thessalonians 5:23

  10. BruceC says:


    I will pray for your wife and you. Jesus said that He would be with us until the end of time. Sometimes it seems like He is not there but that is because we can’t see Who is standing directly behind us.
    My Mom valiantly fought breast cancer for years. And during that time the Lord used her as a witness to my wife in the first years of our marriage and as a testimony to His strngth and grace.

    Iknow what Paul means by despair. For the last ten years I have had to deal with periodic times of depression that seem to just fall upon me. Sometimes this low feeling goes on for a few hours and sometimes the whole day. At first I thought I waas losing it. But then after talking with the right people and reading up on it I found that lots of “normal” folks deal with it too. Charles Spurgeon dealt with times of severe depression. Imagine that!! I am thankful though that I never returned to the awful panic attacks I had for the first six months after my Dad died. That was a nightmare. We as believers will deal with this until we go home. I think despair is something of the flesh and all carry it with them.

    God bless all!!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  11. Ken says:

    Sorry fiyameta, I made a spelling error on your username.

  12. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Ken and jon614 – your families are in my prayers. My emotions are great and my words are so few as words seem so inadequate.

    Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    Mart – This post was very comforting in the fact that we all face times of pain and hopelessness. As you said, even Paul went through it. I am so glad that Paul did record his innermost thoughts and struggles as they are a great help in times of suffering. The same is true of David in the Psalms.

  13. jam200 says:

    Dear Ken: I prayed for you and Toni this morning. Our God is big enough to remove the cancer from Toni if He so desires. Yet, if He does not, He is able to comfort you and Toni, and hold you both through this time of need.

    “Trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”

    Ken, lean on Him!

  14. poohpity says:

    Over the last 3 years walking with my mom for 10 months watching her slowly die asking my family to help me with no help until the last 10 days of her life then everyone in my family seemed to know what she wanted and needed was devastating for me. Then I received blame for not doing what they thought she wanted. I gave them the papers she had drawn up but none of them read them. During that 10 month period I had to have my right hip replaced which thankfully she was not getting any chemo and did not begin again until I was able to go with her. After her death I pushed everyone of them away from me because I was grieving her loss so much I did not feel like getting yelled at and blamed for things that were out of my control. Those relationships have still not been mended.

    Then exactly one year and one month later my dad passed then my mom’s sister three months later and several of my friends. I was overcome with grief and despair. Then I wanted to push all my friends and children away because I did not want to feel that horrible pain of loss for anyone else. I felt if I did not have anyone close to me it would not hurt so bad. I was so comforted by people that I never met personally but they shared their stories with me. People like Elijah, Elisha, David, Jeremiah and the list goes on.

    I read how their depression was so bad that either their bones felt like wax or they went and hid anything to run away from their feelings until they cried out in their despair to the Lord. That was the only one I could share how bad I was hurting inside because I knew, God knew. I also shared with all the people on here and you all prayed for me and for that I will be eternally grateful. Some days as they are now when I have a hard time just getting dressed or going out but I have hope that the Lord will continually help me heal. My only hope is in the Lord cause I know that He alone will not hurt me anymore but take me through this process. Despair we will all face at sometime in our lives but those that have suffered from it will be the best ones to find comfort in because they understand and know we just need someone to sit quietly with us and listen to us cry or yell or throw things and love us anyway like Jesus does.

  15. poohpity says:

    Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  16. bubbles says:

    there are times when those who hurt do not need to hear “pat answers”. It’s important to listen with love and not jump on, criticize, or question the faith or spiritual maturity of the one hurting. At times other Chrisians can be the source of more pain unintentionally.

  17. BruceC says:

    You are right bubbles; at times Christians can hurt us the most and it is because we expect that from them least of all.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  18. dodi says:

    Hello Friends in Christ

    Ken: you and your family are in my heart and prayers.

    Despair / I would be lieing to say I’ve never been there. As a child that’s all I ever knew /(just didn’t know the word) I was blest to have never went to bed hungry / all my material needs were met / my mother died when I was the age of 4, I lived w/ a foster Aunt who died when I was 13 / my dad married and divorced once after mom died / / my earthly dad died while I was in my early 20’s / by the time I was 18 I had moved a total of 22 times(despair) / alone / depressed / even forsaken for lack of a better word. (there’s more) butI will hush.

    Then one day grace spoke to me and gave me this encouragment…..
    Jesus in his humanity cried from the cross “my God, my God why has thou forsaken me?” I believe with all my heart the HUMANITY side of Jesus felt forsaken / but the DIVINE side of Jesus knew he was not forsaken, he was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, Christ in his humanity has experienced more grief/ forsakeness/ aloneness/ and yes even despair…(in His humanity)than we can ever imagine….
    So now I forgive myself when I give in to despair because I know Christ promised me he would never leave me or forsake me. I do believe that Christians can be oppressed by the enemy but never posessed. After Elijah brought fire down from heaven / he prayed to die / but God fed him by the ravens and a little brook / then when the brook dried up God told Elijah to get up and get going.

    The A.Paul almost despaied of life but he didn’t give into it and allow it to control him. It is Grace that has brought us safe this far and it is Grace that will keep us and take us home. “Were it not for grace” dodi

  19. rxman says:

    Ken:i am praying for you and your wife. I, too have had many times when I called out to God and was sure that He wasn’t there. Towards the end of Mart’s blog a word jumped out at me and that word was TRUST. Do I trust that God, as my loving heavenly father, wants only the best for me? That, I think is the key for me. I need to trust that He will never leave me or forsake me. TRUST!!!!!!

  20. Ken says:

    Thank you, all of you for your prayers and encouragement, it means so much to us. You have lifted my spirit. Thank you.
    Poohpity thanks for your story. It touched my heart.

  21. foreverblessed says:

    Thanks Pooh, and Dodi, thank you very much!
    What a tragedy in Oslo, Norway! What a terrorist, and he calls himself christian too, well he is not a follower of Christ: He lets Himself put on a cross, instead of fighting the Romans! What feeling of despair must there be in more then 90 families now, who lost dear ones. Pray for them too!
    How deep life goes, Jesus goes even deeper,
    that’s the story of Jesus!

  22. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    We don’t have to look far to see suffering and turmoil. I myself am coming to a time of decision and choice concerning the course my life will take.

    Mart, you wrote:
    “…Paul wrote about being overwhelmed by trouble to the point of despairing even of life itself (2Cor 1:8).
    Yes, in that same letter, he also wrote about being ‘Hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed…perplexed, but not in despair'(2Cor 4:8).”

    Job spoke just days after all his treasured blessings had been removed from him — loved ones and possessions: “For my sighing comes like my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes.” (Job 3:24-26)

    I certainly do not want to hear, even in my lightest affliction, that the Lord is allowing the testing of the strength of my faith – or my hope – or even my character! Yet, the lives of both Paul and Job teach that true faith is “tested by fire” like gold. In that refining, faith “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”(1 Peter 1:7)

    As I examine my current trials, I must admit that holding steady and waiting upon the Lord to move in persons, circumstances and in me — will eventually bring Him glory. The praise, glory and honor are His alone. I am now being called upon to choose according to my best understanding of complete obedience to Christ.

    The greatest thing that can happen is the friendship and prayer support of fellow Christians!


  23. saled says:

    Ken, I also pray for you and your wife Toni. Neither my husband nor I have faced cancer, but both my parents have and I remember feeling that their struggles were like an actual physical weight in my own body. It does feel like you are carrying the world on your shoulders. Specifically I pray for your fear, as you mentioned that
    you were terrified. I naturally tend towards fear, and often find myself terrified over relatively minor things, like a dentist apt. The other day a friend shared a cute little poster with me that looked like the road signs at our neighboring wildlife refuge warning people not to feed the bears. This poster said “don’t feed the fear.” Good advice. This friend also said instead of feeding our fear, we might feed our purpose. I know your purpose is to love and support your wife. I pray that God will take away your fear and help you focus on your purpose.

  24. poohpity says:

    In ODB today I was reminded of 1 Cor 1:3-4 and 1 Thess 5:11.

  25. poohpity says:

    Sorry that was 2 Cor 1:3-4, ooops.

  26. Toml5169 says:

    I have been away for the past week but also want to confirm my prayers for you and Toni. Much has already been said to support you from God’s word and from the hearts of those gathered here. Paul gives us two prayers in the opening chapters of Ephesians that bring me comfort during times of trial and confusion. In Eph.1:17-19 Paul prays for us to know Him so we can KNOW hope,riches of our inheritance and the greatness of His power. Then in Eph.3:14-19 Paul prays for us to comprehend the totality of God’s love. No matter how dark this road could become please remember God is always drawing us to Himself and when His love, power, glory and care seem distant they are NOT. Having the “eyes of our heartw enlightened” is often painful but is NEVER without HIS presence and love. My prayers like Paul’s are with you.

  27. foreverblessed says:

    Pooh and Tom,thank you for the scriptures, the 1 Corinthians does also good. In this morning devotion of Spurgeon:
    -Exodus 14:13
    Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.”
    But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in his love and faithfulness.-

    Even to rejoice in tribulation, this is a high calling, and being able to do that I pray: God I want to rejoice in my sufferings. ButI look inside me, and the only thing I can do is sigh for relief. Help me to do so, give me the strength to sing You praise in my trials.
    Numbers 14:17 That God strength may be displayed in us.
    Let us go from strength to strength, Your Strenght, from faith to faith, Romans 1:17(NKJV)

  28. poohpity says:

    rxman, I was thinking today about what you said about trust. If Jesus knew we would have all kinds of trials and suffering yet we are to find comfort and joy. Sometimes when we do not have words to pray all we have to do is look up and say “help”. I think after being a parent we sometimes forget that our Heavenly Father is our parent and we can trust Him to just be there when we call for help. Although our situations are horrible the joy from knowing that He will take care of it is what can bring us comfort and joy. I find peace and comfort in knowing that, not that we won’t feel despair but we can acknowledge it and trust that God knows what to do to get us through it. We have a mighty God if we just trust in the times we have nothing else to do.

  29. dodi says:

    Would you believe this very Sunday A.M. our message @ our church was about despair and our Pastor mentioned when
    there’s no way out look up __

    despair…./tribulations/trials for the unbeliever and believer alike

    comes to draw us to God
    not drive us away___

  30. davids says:


    I remember when my wife had breast cancer 10 years ago. It was crushing. We had young children at the time and I was frightened and felt alone. She had a very aggressive tumor, so the doctors didn’t make light of it.

    There were months of chemo and radiotherapy. People prayed for us. In the end she got through it. There is hope. I have prayed for you and your wife.


  31. Ken says:

    Thank you my brother. We really appreciate your encouragement.

  32. BruceC says:

    Sorry to change the subject; but I have a request for prayer. My wife and I are part of a team from our church that is doing a summer program for children at a city housing project. The program is called FITS menaing Fun In The Son. Pray that all goes well; that the enemy is held at bay by the angels of God, that Jesus takes scales off the eyes of and softens the hearts of parents and touches the hearts of these children. So that His gospel be preached and that the hearers respond.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  33. poohpity says:

    I will be praying Bruce.

  34. davids says:

    Amen, Bruce!

  35. Regina says:

    Good Evening All

    I pray that all is well in your lives.

    I stand in agreement with you, Ken, for your wife’s healing. I pray that the LORD’s healing virtue will flow through your wife’s body, and that He will remove the cancerous cells from her breast according to His Word in Isaiah 53:5, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (NKJV).
    I pray that the LORD will comfort your heart so that you’ll “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, you’ll let your requests be made known to God; and that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6, NKJV).

    BruceC, I thank God for the ministry work that you, your wife and church will be doing on behalf of the children (& parents) at a city housing project. I stand in agreement with you for all that you asked the LORD to do on behalf of those children (& their parents) in your comment.

    Steve, you’re sorely missed! I pray that all is well with you and your family. I love you, brother, and I anxiously await your return to the BTA blog site.

    Want to share this poem with all (from ODB/7-7-11):
    “O give me a spirit of peace, dear Lord,
    Midst the storms and tempests that roll,
    That I may find rest and quiet within,
    A calm buried deep in my soul. ~ Dawe

    Partly cloudy and hot in Texas today (102 degrees right now).

    Love to all,

  36. Elaa says:

    I say ‘Amen’ to all the prayers for you. I thank God for David’s encouraging testimony. And I thank God for all of you daring to trust God and encouraging the same with your sharing. Our ‘light’ affliction, which is but for a ‘moment’, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory… May His Grace be sufficient for us in Jesus name.

  37. branch says:

    How can I submit a comment?Has my Password changed?

  38. starfish7 says:

    Dear Ken, I have prayed for you and Toni. May our Lord Jesus touch her and give her full healing. May He also comfort you, and help you throughout this process.

    If I may, I would like to ask for prayer as well. I lost my job back in February, and have been looking for a new job ever since. I’ve had interviews but so far nothing has happened. I have a chance for a part-time job in September working for someone I used to know from an old job. This week, I received a call from another job I had applied for and it looks as if they are interested in me, although I’m not sure as these things take so long nowadays. I have asked the Lord to help me do the right thing – should I wait for the part-time job, which I would probably get, or should I pursue this new job as well? I don’t want to lose the first job if the new one doesn’t happen, like all the others that didn’t work out. I just need to know that I am making the right move. And, if neither of these jobs happen, I need to find a job before my unemployment runs out in about a month. Please pray that the Lord will show me where He wants me to be, and that things will work out so that I end up in the right place. I have no family to talk this over with, and sometimes I feel so alone. Thanks and God bless you all.

  39. foreverblessed says:

    Dear Starfish, I will pray for you, and pray for your peace, and your joy in God. I pray that you may see this as an adventure to trust God more and more. He is in control, we know that, and it is easy to say, when everyday you have a job, and food, and a house to live in. But in your situation it is a statement of belief.
    Pray to God that you remain focused on Him, instead of thinking over and over again on which job to focus.
    If God is in control, He will open one door for you. He will do that as you come to the door. Not way before it.
    Trust Him!
    I have been jobless before, and I know what it means, what I write here, is not what I did at the time, worrying too much. But it helps if you share with other christians, they can pray for you, and hold up your arms. Give all your care to the Lord and He will take care of you. I gave my worries to God, and the next moment I take them back again, and struggle under the load, It is something that is learned. But if you can, start singing christian songs, and recite what the words say, and pray them over. It takes your thoughts on God and off the worries.
    This is a life lesson, our pilgrimage.
    There is a story of jani820, being jinxed Aug 1, 2011,6:33 pm, that might be helpful for you.
    I hope everything is well with Ken and his wife, I pray for them too.

  40. royalpalm says:

    Hello, Starfish,
    I, too, am praying for you. I agree with foreverblessed that you keep your focus on the Lord and just keep on praising and thanking Him. For He loves you. I hope my own story will encourage and help you:

    I have been a stay at home Mom for 10 yrs when I was offered a part-time job as an employment counsellor in a govt. funded office. I had tutored the 3 children of my employer and we go to the same church and were friends. However, after 2 years and with a very good performance evaluation, I was told I was not needed and he hired another person. It was humiliating because I was teaching clients not only how to get a job but also how to keep it. Then I lost my job. My employer who was a Christian did not offer any explanation.I was devastated and for a very long time just kept on thinking all possible reasons why I was fired… I did not have the courage to ask why because it wwould just add to my misery.

    I believe that maybe it was because, sometimes, during client interviews when I evaluate the reasons why they don’t have jobs, I talk about the kindness of God who cares about each person’s needs, and that we can all ask for His help. Talking about the goodness of God is part of my system and could possibly the reason why I lost that job… My family and, most of all, God lifted me out of my depression.

    That was the time when God taught me that my security is not in my job but in Him. He is my real employer and He will provide for my needs. He will send me where my skills and abilities will be used and He will use that workplace to meet my needs. As a chid of the King, I do not have to beg for work.

    That happened 11 yrs. ago. I had applied for several jobs and had been rejected. I was not disappointed for I believe that God did not want me to work in those places. Currrently I sub-teach in schools and God sends me where I’m needed. Meanwhile all our family needs are abundantly provided. God is faithful. He cares for His own. My favorite verse during those times is Psalm 37:4,5 “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” I still claim these verses.

    Early this year the above mentioned employer’s daughter asked for tutoring help for her university Statistics that she needed to pass to graduate. I helped her and she graduated. There was a job opening for a summer student at her father’s employment office – my daughter who was highly qualified applied and was rejected. We were sad. I thought that since I helped his daughter, maybe he could also help my daughter. But God has better plans – she was hired at another workplace where the pay is much higher and where she is highly valued and needed. Truly God’s way is perfect! We can always depend on Him.

    May the Lord bless and lead you to the place He has prepared for you as you put your trust in Him. He loves you and knows your needs.

    Ken, I also pray for you and your wife…

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