December 2020 – A typical round of golf takes about four hours. The two men (or women) who occupy the golf cart generally know each other very well, and lots of topics come up between Hole 1 and Hole 18. Rarely is there anything said of profound significance, as golfers are typically out on the course to escape matters of profound significance.
But I was out with my good friend Dave, and we were talking about the turmoil in our country both politically and culturally. I was saying how depressing it is to see how far our beloved America has gotten away from the God of our fathers when Dave said, “You know we Christians have to remember this: To despair is to sin.”
To which I responded, “Why must you talk about my golf game like that?”
I thought about that several days after our golf outing. Despair is a sin. I even looked up the word in the dictionary. It means “the complete loss or absence of hope.” Now, obviously no one wants to fall into despair about life, but I had never heard about it being a sin – meaning, it is something that is displeasing to God.
I don’t have to tell you what causes us sometimes to get into an attitude of self-pity or negativity. Every day, we all face myriad temptations to give up or develop a sour attitude, which can suck the life out of us and those around us. Sickness, loss of someone close to us, divorce, losing a job, rebellious children, addiction – all can cause despair.
But how do we fight back? One big way is to understand that what Christians know as spiritual warfare is what’s going on in our souls. That is, in our mind in particular. But when despair comes to our door, one of the best ways to combat it head-on is to read the Bible. Or listen to the Bible. Or both.
I do both, but I have found listening to the Bible at night not only helps me learn the Scriptures but also helps soothe my mind and spirit.
Specifically, I believe the book of Psalms was preserved for us to help us with our unbelief.
The Bible is the written Word of God. It gives us perspective. A couple of important concepts become clear when reading the Bible. First, God is huge and we are tiny. And second, God will take care of those who obey and follow him. Even if that means ultimately take care of them. Ultimately means “in the end” or as my dad used to say, “when it’s all been said and when it’s all been done.”
The same Bible that comforts us also tells us we must try to do something about our plight. In other words, we have to do our part to help ourselves and help those around us, and yes, I believe, help our country.
If the case of America it would be easy to despair. We have become a nation of mockers and scoffers when it comes to things of God. Here I go on about Psalms again; the book opens with, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers” (NIV).
Things look bleak right now. But we Christians must keep doing everything we can do to stand for what Jesus called “righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10, KJV). It’s our service to Him.
We must never despair, because God is on His heavenly throne, and He will have the final say on planet Earth.