When Disappointment & Despair Lead Us
Sometimes, when we allow Disappointment and Despair to lead us, they lead us to God.
“The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.” –Norman Cousins
And sometimes, even with Hope, our energy comes and goes—it is a normal condition in life. Some days we feel up, some days down. But until I started delving into the Psalms and into the poetry of mystics and saints, I didn’t know that it was normal to go through periods, even long periods, of despair, of hopelessness, of self-loss—normal for strong people, that is.
In my mind, depression was either a condition that needed to be medically treated with a Chill Pill, a biologically caused malady that you couldn’t control, no matter how strong a will or mind you might have. Or, if your depression wasn’t biological, then it was all in your head and it was a weakness and was something that could be cured with the use of some bootstraps and a pulley system.
I was so wrong.
Read the Psalm 102:1-7 and listen to the voice of despair:
Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you;
hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Incline your ear to me;
when I call, make haste to answer me,
For my days drift away like smoke,
and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My heart is smitten like grass and withered,
so that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the voice of my groaning
I am but skin and bones.
I have become like a vulture in the wilderness,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and groan;
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.
I cannot read those words without tears. My heart reaches out to my companion poet’s heart, my hand longs to hold his (or hers). Our heads to meet and our tears to mingle. My companion, the friend of my longing heart, how could I not have known you?
I don’t have anything wise to say; nothing pithy, nothing smart. I only have an apology.
If you have been sad and I have not walked with you, quietly, holding your hand, lending you my shoulder and needing yours in return—I am so sorry.
And if, in the future, you reach out and I answer your call impatiently—I am so sorry, my friend.
And for all those times when I have hated my own weakness and cried tears of self-loathing—I’m so sorry, Kim.
We are here to care for one another, that is how we see the face of God. We see the face of God in the face of those we lift up and hold close to our breast. We feel God’s presence crushed between our bodies when we embrace each other. We open ourselves to God’s gift of grace when we gift each other with soft spoken words of love and forgiveness. And when we have a servant’s heart, both to friend and to foe, we build a strengthening comfort that gives itself – as one lover gives to another – to everyone in our presence and all that are beyond our understanding.
I so love these simple words of the Persian poet, Hafiz:
[JUST SIT THERE RIGHT NOW]
sit there right now.
Don’t do a thing. Just rest.
separation from God
is the hardest work in this world.
Let me bring you trays of food and something
that you like to
You can use my soft words
as a cushion
Sometimes, when we allow Disappointment and Despair to lead us, they lead us to God. For without the darkness within, how do we come to know the Light that is also within?