Reflections August 2016 Dissipate Despair
A Reflection for August 2016 by Richard Parrish


Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”   
- Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) [1]



How’s your hope? When you observe the increase of tragedies that occur on an almost daily basis, how does that impact you? What’s your response?


When senseless acts of violence happen to innocent people; when homes and lives are destroyed and devastated by natural acts of nature, does your hope diminish? What encouragement can you offer those who voice their frustration, anxiety, and weariness on social media platforms?


While I am unable to speak for you, my conversations with neighbors, friends, and strangers in the marketplace reveal that hope appears to be receding. We seem to have more questions than answers.


Polarization is more prominent than before. Apparently, rancor is the model “de’ Jour,” and dis-unity more prevalent than unity. It’s discouraging to see division and vindictiveness. But it’s tragic when people lose hope!


The ancient wisdom of the Proverb above reveals a timely reminder for each of us. When hope is delayed, prolonged or drawn out, our heart becomes sick. And, a “sick heart” is revealed by increased weariness and exhaustion that encourages “hopelessness.” 


The delay of solutions intensifies our frustration and inspires greater anxiety. The longer we wait for answers, hope fades and spirits become despondent.


But is the growing sense of hopelessness a result of increased tragedies, violence, acrimony, or unanswered problems?


We’re not the first generation that has encountered a tsunami of complications. Countless others before us were familiar with the taste of hopelessness.


The Psalmist cries:


“God, you’re my last chance of the day. I spend the night on my knees before you. Put me on your salvation agenda; take notes on the trouble I’m in. I’ve had my fill of trouble; I’m camped on the edge of hell. I’m written off as a lost cause, one more statistic, a hopeless case.”) [1]


Job expresses his hopelessness: “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” [2] 


The apostle Paul addresses the concerns and growing tide of hopelessness in his day by re-focusing his view:


“Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…” [3]


Paul does not ignore his problems. He purposefully realigns his focus upon the One who is completely capable of holding us together!


As a follower of Christ, it is imperative that I do not allow my eyes to become diverted by the tragedies and challenges in my community and world. I must not remove myself from engaging in the process to find constructive solutions.


Our world is too small to accommodate isolation! We dare not forget the Holocaust survivors. We must continue to pray for Syrian refugees, Coptic Christians, and other individuals who have – and continue to – suffer because of famine and genocidal atrocities. 


●     Failure to honestly acknowledge (and address the challenges of) racism as abhorrent to
       God is a sure sign we need focus re-alignment!

●     Accommodating violence or contributing to conversations that demean others is an
       accurate indication we’ve lost proper focus!

●     Modeling inappropriate behavior to our young people – is not only tragic – it is a tangible
       sign of our need to realign our focus.


When our focus is in the right place, hope dissipates despair.


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13 (ESV)

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Pr 13:12. [1] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Ps 88:1–4. [2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Job 3:26. [3] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Ro 8:35.



●     Where’s my focus? Who do I trust?
●     Do I feel an increase in anxiety? Why?
●     On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being no hope); where do I place the hope meter?
●     Is it time for me to re-align my focus?