Things might look hopeless, but God can still make a way!

I had a conversation with an old friend the other day. We joked about the past, reliving fun memories of our younger days. But through the smiles and laughs, something triggered a painful memory. That night, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The next day— wouldn’t you know it— I woke up with symptoms of a cold. Now, not only did my thoughts reel from the painful memory; my physical body languished as well. It seemed the enemy was hitting me from every side. Before I knew it, despair overcame me. I wanted to get up. Get moving. Get back to my normal daily life, but I just couldn’t do it. So, what do we do when despair threatens to overtake us? 

Despair can be triggered by many things and can happen without warning.

A reminder of things past, our current circumstances, or even fear of the future. Whatever brings on these feelings of despair, we can begin by praying against it and seeking help from God. In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet gives us an inspired word from the Lord for times of hopelessness. Not only does God promise a crown of beauty for what we’ve suffered, but our despair will be replaced with festive praise.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” (Isaiah 61:3 NLT)

The Israelites had been through great and many trials due to the sins of their past. But that was about to change. I imagine they felt hopeless as they wondered whether the promise of a better future would ever be fulfilled. These words through Isaiah brought hope and joy to their despair.

We often pray for things—peace, provision, healing, and more. But it is perfectly okay to pray against things also— attacks of the enemy, disappointment, and even despair. God is our Source of all things good, and he calls us to “put on the full armor of God,” so we can stand against the enemy’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). When the effects of despair come upon us, the helmet of salavation is a great place to start. It can protect our minds from intrusive thoughts that lead us away from God’s Word. Then, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” can replace those false thoughts with truth (Ephesians 6:17). 

Whether or not we’re able to pinpoint what causes our despair, we need to bring it to God through prayer. Isaiah chapter 61 speaks of hope beyond our hardship. God assures us, “…everlasting joy will be yours.” (Isaiah 61:7b) What an amazing promise! And what a powerful verse to help us reclaim our hearts and minds from the persistent enemy of despair. Is despair sneaking its way into your mind and trying to take over? We have good news today. We don’t have to let it in. Let’s pray against despair with all the authority we have in the name of Jesus. The enemy has to flee at the mention of his name. So, let’s begin there, with an act of festive praise!

Let’s pray:
Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving your son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. Thank you for the forgiveness that comes through his life, death, and resurrection. Because Jesus lives today, I have eternal hope. Praise the name of Jesus! Lately, I’ve felt discouraged, sad, and in despair. Help me to remember I’m not fighting against flesh and blood but “against mighty powers in this dark world.” (Ephesians 6:12) And because of that, I can pray against any attack of the enemy, including despair. I pray against despair in my life. I have so many reasons to be hopeful. Despair has no place in my mind or heart. You have promised me everlasting joy. I receive that promise today, Father. Thank you for the joy that never ends and hopes for a future in heaven with you. I am victorious over death and despair because of Jesus. I also pray for everyone else experiencing despair right now. Protect them with the helmet of salvation. Lord, I lift my sword of the Spirit in their defense. You give us “festive praise instead of despair.” Help us replace the enemy’s lies with this truth. You are faithful, holy, and good. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.