Dealing With Despair

Gordon VanWylen

READ : Psalm 77:1-20

Here is a person of faith who has experienced some great, unnamed tragedy and finds himself in deep despair. Though he cries to God in his difficulties, he finds no answer, and in his amazing frankness Asaph says, “I remembered you, O God, and groaned.” What despair!

Then he lets his memory come into play about days when things were apparently going well and he sang songs of joy at night. But his despair rises again as he asks six poignant questions (vv. 7-9). In powerful poetry he doubts whether God really cares and will ever show his love and mercy to him again.

Is there any way out of such powerful despair? The psalmist gives us an important clue as his mind overrides his emotions; he remembers and meditates on the great deeds and miracles of the Lord in his saving acts of love for his people. He then reflects on God’s majestic power over various events in nature. Though he recognizes God’s role in all of this, he concludes with this interesting insight: “though your footprints were not seen.” This suggests that there may be tragedies and difficulties in which we cannot perceive the purposes and presence of God. The footprints to Calvary and the empty tomb tell us that a loving, caring God is in control.


When confronted with tragedies, difficulties, and despair, give me faith to trust your unfailing love and grace. Amen