{Bonus Chapter} Don’t Let Me Give Way to Despair

Sarah and I wrote four bonus chapters to Hope When It Hurts that you can download on the publisher’s website! They’re formatted beautifully like the rest of the book. 


My new bike is still sitting here. Tags and all.

My husband bought me the shiny cruiser for my birthday, which was a celebration of progress for us. Until recently, I hadn’t ridden a bike in a year because of physical pain resulting from Lyme disease. But lately I had improved enough that some easy exercise on the bike seemed within my grasp—until I proceeded to roll my ankle on a stupid crack in the road a few weeks ago.

These days, the ongoing pain in my body has felt…ridiculous. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If it’s not my “normal,” chronic pain, it’s the disorder in my jaw. If it’s not my jaw acting up, it’s my ankle, because of my stupid misstep. And if it’s not my ankle, it’s the screaming pain of costochondritis attacks, an inflammation of chest cartilage that comes on without notice, which feels like a boulder is sitting over my heart.

And so the bike is still sitting here, unused.

Some days God gives me the grace to laugh about it. Some days. But most days, I’m overcome by the weariness of what feels like unceasing physical pain. I’m beat down by it. It’s exhausting. It’s defeating. The pain overflows into tears, and I cry, “Lord, this is enough. No more, please!”

Maybe for you, it sounds like:

No more hospital appointments, please!

No more conflict, please!

No more bad news, please!

No more loneliness, please!

No more financial setbacks, please!

No more, no more…please…

Our groanings go from words to…well…groaning. The temptation is to give way to discouragement and, in our lowest moments, to despair. Oh, how the enemy of our souls would love to see this happen. He would love to defeat us in our pain—to use our pain to drag us down into despair, and beyond that point to disbelief.

So how do we fight back? When there doesn’t seem to be a way out of our situation, how do we process it? How do we apply God’s truth to it? How do we pray about it?

I’m walking this earthly journey with you. I’m struggling with these questions and learning how to cling to Christ, our hope, in the process. This is what I prayed for myself today, and what I am praying for you, brother, sister, as you also walk through the valley of the shadow of death in your own context.

Lord, don’t let me give way to fear.

I confess, Jesus, that I’m terrified of what tomorrow may bring—and I’m even more afraid that I won’t be able to press on. You tell me, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34), but I am, Lord! I’m anxious. I’m worried. I’m fearful of the future. Jesus, don’t let me give way to fear. You have given me ”a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Your perfect love “casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18)—and I know you have taken my punishment upon yourself, so there is none left for me. Would you fill me with your peace? Would you pour your love into my heart through your Holy Spirit who has been given to me? Would you transform me through the renewing of my mind by your precious Word, and set my mind on things above?

Help me, Lord Jesus. I am afraid. I need you. I can’t see beyond this moment, except to feel anxious. Help me to walk in your peace and to trust you for tomorrow.

Lord, don’t let me give way to self-pity.

Father God, you see my inner-most thoughts and the intentions of my heart (Psalm 139:2); so you know already that I am battling the awful, joy-sapping sin of self-pity. I feel waves of pain-induced pride welling up within me, and I often don’t think that I deserve any of this pain. I’m sorry that I have not yielded to your will in an attitude of meekness, but have stubbornly resisted you in pride, thinking I know what is best and know what you should give me. I’m sorry for taking out my anger and bitterness on the people I love the most, and for silently stewing at you in the depths of my being when I could enjoy “draw[ing] near to the throne of grace [to] receive mercy and find grace to help in [this] time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

I know you will not turn me away, Lord, but all too often I keep myself away from you. Don’t let me give way to self-pity! By your grace at work in my soul, squash my pride and humble me before your holiness and wisdom. Make me a willing vessel to be used for your purposes, not my own agenda—even through pain. I praise you, Father, that I am your child, and that this is true of you: “He fulfills the desire of the those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:19). I don’t need to pity myself because you see me, hear me, and you know.

Lord, don’t let me give way to doubt.

Jesus, in my darkest moments, I confess that I doubt you’re even real. The enemy loves to try and veil my eyes again, blinding me to the promise that you will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6)—but you have promised that you “will not let [me] be tempted beyond [my] ability, but with the temptation [you] will also provide the way of escape, that [I] may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). May these truths be my way out: that you have defeated death itself (Acts 2:24); that you are more real than this life, and more lovely than anything in this life, even though I can’t see you (1 Peter 1:8); that there is blessing in believing in you even while I cannot set my eyes on you (John 20:29). Help me to love you while I “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Help me to love you and trust you, even when everything around me is crumbling and cannot suffice for me. Don’t let me give way to doubt! Give me eyes to see that your truth gleams more brightly in the darkness. I depend on you, the light of the world, to lead me, counsel me, and make the gospel real to me—to lead me in, and through, and beyond, these doubts.

Would you combat despair through prayer, and add yours to mine? Lord, don’t let us give way to despair. You are our hope.

Reflect:

  • In your darkest moments of fear, self-pity, and doubt, what have you been tempted to believe about God? About yourself? About your suffering?
  • What specific biblical truths can you combat these lies with? You may want to write a few on cards to carry with you and memorize, for when the lies come.
  • If you have a friend who’s hurting, call them or visit them, and pray God’s Word over them.

Pray:

Father God, the sum of your word is truth! And I want to believe all of it. You speak to me so I would know who you are, and believe what is true. Father, protect my mind from lies that come during trials, and guard my heart from acting on these lies. Your truth and character are steadfast, sufficient, and strengthening! Help me believe your truth! Don’t let me give way to despair, but lead me to my Hope, my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.

For further meditation: Ephesians 1; Psalm 105; Romans 8:6


Download three more extra chapters at The Good Book Company.


 

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