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                        "FAITH IS THE VICTORY!"

                         In Overcoming Despair


1. In this series I have attempted to show how faith in Jesus gives us
   the victory over such things as:
   a. Sin
   b. Anxiety
   c. Boredom
   d. Depression
   -- For I am persuaded that in overcoming the world and whatever it
      throws our way, "Faith Is The Victory!" - cf. 1 Jn 5:4-5

2. Closely related to "depression" is the problem of "despair"...
   a. Those who are depressed are often in a state of despair as well
   b. Despair may be a cause for their depression, or at the least
      making it worse

3. As I hope to illustrate in this study...
   a. Despair (i.e., hopelessness) is a serious problem, not one to be
      taken lightly
   b. It is damaging to our health, our society, and our relationship
      with God
   -- Certainly Christians should seek to dispel despair in their 
      lives, and in the lives of those around them!

[Let me begin, then, by sharing some things I learned in my own study
on the subject of despair...]


      1. According to the American Heritage Dictionary:  To lose all
         hope; to be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat;
         complete loss of hope
      2. Synonyms for despair include hopelessness, despondency, 
      3. Mark Twain described despair as "...a time when one's spirit
         is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a 
         storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the 
         future but a way to death."

      1. Despair takes its toll on society
         a. According to researchers at the University of Missouri-
            Columbia Health Sciences Center, a lack of hope has been 
            linked to poor behavior in children
         b. As reported by Reuter's Leslie Lang, children with high 
            levels of hopelessness...
            1) Tended to engage in harmful and destructive behavior to 
               themselves and others
            2) Tended to be defiant, refusing to obey rules, take 
               turns, share, and skip school
         c. The researcher quoted indicated that hopelessness may be an
            indicator for children and teens who are prone to act in 
            anti-social or aggressive behavior
      2. Despair takes it toll on your physical health
         a. It can have the same detrimental effect on the heart as 
            smoking a pack of cigarettes, according to a study 
            published in the August, 1997, issue of Arteriosclerosis, 
            Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology,
         b. "a high level of hopelessness exacerbates the 
            atherosclerotic process in middle-aged men" (Dr. Susan A.
         c. I.e.,  it increases the thickness of the arterial walls
      3. Despair is certainly detrimental to one's spiritual health
         a. To be in despair is a slap in the face of God
            1) "He that despairs degrades God." (Owen Felltham, 
            2) "When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you
               are slamming the door in the face of God." (Charles L.
               Allen, 1913- )
            3) "It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers
               that his Helper is omnipotent." (Jeremy Taylor, 
         b. To be in despair renders one ineffective in helping others:
            "He that is fallen cannot help him that is down." (unknown)

[The pervasiveness of despair in our society is reflected in the words
of Thoreau:  "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."  But as
Clare Boothe Luce said, "There are no hopeless situations. There are 
only people who have grown hopeless about them."

Charles Swindoll has said that "Surrendering to despair is man's 
favorite pastime. God offers a better plan, but it takes effort to grab
it and faith to claim it."  With that I agree, and so now wish for us
to consider how...]


      1. Through His teachings...
         a. Telling us of God's providential care - Mt 6:30; 7:11;
         b. Telling us of God's love for the lost - Lk 15:7; Jn 3:16-17
      2. Through His promises...
         a. Telling us of the abundant life He offers - Jn 4:13-14; 
            6:35; 10:10
         b. His promise of the resurrection He offers - Jn 11:23-27
         c. His promise of His return and the place He is preparing 
            - Jn 14:1-3
      3. Through His actions...
         a. His death on the cross provides the hope of our 
         b. His resurrection provides the hope for our own 
      -- Jesus is truly "our hope"! - cf. 1 Ti 1:1

      1. Has hope in God regarding the resurrection - Ac 24:15; cf. 
         1 Pe 1:3
      2. Can rejoice in hope regarding the glory to come - Ro 5:1-2
      3. Use the Scriptures as a constant replenisher of hope - Ro 15:4
      4. Can abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit - Ro 15:13;
         Ga 5:5
      5. Has the hope of salvation as a "helmet" to protect our minds 
         - 1 Th 5:8
      6. Can look forward to the "blessed hope and glorious appearing
         of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" - Ti 2:13-14


1. It has been said that "Life with Christ is an endless hope, without
   him a hopeless end."
   a. For those who are in Christ, they have every reason to hope!
   b. For those outside of Christ, one can understand why there is 
      often despair!

2. For those in Christ, we are charged to hold fast to our hope...
   a. "but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if 
      we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm 
      to the end." - He 3:6
   b. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
      for He who promised is faithful." - He 10:23
   -- And for good reason, for "This hope we have as an anchor of the
      soul, both sure and steadfast..." - He 6:19

Through faith in Jesus, we can hold fast to our hope, and gain the 

            God be praised, that to believing souls
               Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair!

                        WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)
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