Help for Hopelessness

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In one of my favorite books, nineteenth-century author Hannah Whitall Smith tells the following allegory: 

Satan called together a council of his servants to consult how they might make a good man sin. One evil spirit started up and said, “I will make him sin.” “How will you do it?” asked Satan. “I will set before him the pleasures of sin,” was the reply; “I will tell him of its delights and the rich rewards it brings.” “Ah,” said Satan, “that will not do; he has tried it and knows better than that.” Then another imp started up and said, “I will make him sin.” “What will you do?” asked Satan. “I will tell him of the pains and sorrows of virtue. I will show him that virtue has no delights and brings no rewards.” “Ah, no!” exclaimed Satan, “That will not do at all, for he has tried it and knows that `Wisdom’s ways ARE ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” “Well,” said another imp, starting up, “I will undertake to make him sin.” “And what will you do?” asked Satan again. “I will discourage his soul,” was the short reply. “Ah, that will do! “cried Satan; “that will do! We shall conquer him now.

Doubt and discouragement are blood relatives born from the father of all lies. On the other hand, believing God’s Word, over and above whether I feel like He is near or not, stimulates a faith that pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6). Hallelujah. 

When discouraged, I often recite this simple passage, emphasizing each word with each declaration.

The LORD is near — It is the God of the universe, my Creator, my Father, my Lover, Who is adjacent to me even now. He has dominion over all heaven and all earth, possessing all greatness, all power, all glory, all victory, and all majesty. Riches and honor come from Him, and He can make great and strengthen everyone (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).

The Lord IS near — It’s not that He was near in the past or will be in the future. He is close to me right now, in this very moment of breath.

The Lord is NEAR — He isn’t just out there somewhere, glancing over to me occasionally, hoping I don’t mess up. He is near, in my mouth and my heart (Romans 10:8). His very Kingdom is so near that He is seeking to fill up every available space within me that I will allow (Luke 17:21). His nearness is my good (Psalm 73:28). 

Make this declaration your own:

I will be anxious for nothing, Lord, because You are near (Philippians 4:5-6). Reveal Your proximity, and let me see how near You truly are. Deliver me from the evil suggestions of discouragement. I believe in You.”

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