Walking Through Despair: Keep Watch and Pray

I write this post for fellow souls who are determined to press ahead in their journey of faith when facing difficult setbacks. The life of faith is a journey that takes the pilgrim through the highlands of joy and through the valleys of despair. We will suffer loss and experience defeats in this journey. Others will fail us. Some will betray and misuse us. Ever feel neglected and forgotten? Have you poured yourself out to serve others; yet in your moment of need find yourself alone?

Quotes are from Berean Standard Bible

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The purpose of this writing is to encourage others–not to place blame or criticize others. I want to be clear in the motive of this writing: I am sharing truths that sustain and encourage me as I walk through a valley. After enduring difficult years in my life, I have been considering scriptures and how God responds to us in our moments of failure and despair. How can we find strength, courage, and hope in moments of failure that lead us to despair?

What is despair? What am I writing about here?

I am writing about the intense feelings that ravage our lives when things don’t work out as we expect. These feelings emerge when we encounter difficulties and problems that can’t be solved. We can’t change ourselves, other people, nor can we solve the numerous problems and broken situations of our society.

I feel despair about the rampant, senseless violence that plagues our nation. I feel despair about the broken relationships of my life. I feel as though others have used me, yet became scarce when I needed them. I despair when I consider how many opportunities I have missed to show compassion, kindness, and love to others because I am tired and emotionally drained. I also feel despair in not being the kind, gentle leader that others need and deserve. When I consider God’s Standards of Holiness and Perfection and then consider my sinful ways, I feel despair in ever being righteous.

Are we wrong to feel despair about these things as Christ’s followers?

There will always be a tension in our lives concerning how we will be (glorified in Christ for eternity) and our present stumbling, weak natures. The stain of sin still haunts the redeemed.

Despair in self is a gift when it leads us deeper into Christ.

When God confronts us with our true nature as fallen beings, we either turn to Him to be redeemed and transformed or retreat away from Him. Recognizing my inability to change myself or others leads me to depend on God for His redeeming and transformative work. Despair is an opportunity to invite Christ into the darkness of our lives!

Despair can lead us to dark places. This is a dark valley where our past (failures) tries to define us instead of our future with Christ. The Glorious Return of Christ will set things right. Despair with our present difficulties lead us to desire a better place and eternity without suffering, loss, and failure. Because we want a better place, we live for God and share the Good News of the Gospel.

How Jesus Helps His Disciples

God graciously beckons us to remember the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. This account appears in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46.

Jesus invites Peter, James, and John to join Him in the Garden as He prays prior to His arrest. Jesus asks the three disciples (Matthew 26:36, 40) to stay with Him and pray. According to Matthew, Jesus finds them falling asleep three times! Luke informs us:

45When Jesus rose from prayer and returned to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46“Why are you sleeping?” He asked. “Get up and pray so that you will not enter into temptation.”

Jesus was asking them to be there for Him–to join Him in prayer and to find strength in their Heavenly Father. They weren’t able to stay awake and on task. Luke gives us a vital clue as to why they were sleeping! They were emotionally exhausted and saddened by Jesus’ last words to them. The Messiah was going to be betrayed and killed. All that they had been experiencing for the past three years was coming to a sudden and violent conclusion. Their expectations were crashing down!

If you read Luke’s Gospel and consider the encounter on the road to Emmaus, you find Jesus reaching out to His grieving followers. It’s important to notice that they weren’t able to properly understand God’s Word (Old Testament Prophecies) in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Their understanding of God was incomplete even though they believed and hoped.

Jesus invites us to watch and wait on His return! He gently restores us when we go astray due to our grief and lack of understanding. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep behind to search for the one lost, straying soul. Notice how Jesus keeps inviting Peter, James, and John (3 times) to pray and wait with Him.

Jesus later restores Peter after his betrayal. Jesus restores those who are astray because of broken dreams and betrayals. God isn’t done with us when we’re overwhelmed, burdened, and disappointed with life. These moments are avenues for His presence to restore and renew us.

Our experiences and expectations impact our view of God.

Knowing God’s Word and applying to our lives is vital! I enjoy Oswald Chamber’s Devotional because it challenges me to see past my present situation and consider God‘s truths. Chamber gives us some excellent insights into the disciple’s despair. Check out the following devotional

The Way Through The Valleys of Despair

Chambers encourages us to take “spiritual initiative against Despair.” In summary, Oswald exhorts us to trust Him and pray on knowing that He has redeemed us. He concludes this devotion with these wise words:

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.

Oswald Chambers, Feb. 18

The way through the dark moments of our lives is to pray and watch with Christ! The next step is to keep seeking Christ in prayer and trusting in Him. God doesn’t define success as we do. Our failures are opportunities for His grace and mercy. God surprises the women disciples!

Consider how that Jesus appeared to be defeated by death and the powers of evil. What were the faithful ladies doing between Friday evening and Saturday,? They were preparing to visit Jesus and anoint His body. God graciously gives them the honor of finding the empty tomb. The disciples were hiding from fear of the Jews, but the women were going to anoint Jesus with spices per tradition. The article explains:


What does it mean to to pray and watch?

Got questions reminds us to

“Watch and pray.” We can only remain faithful when we are devoted to prayer. In prayer, we continually allow God to forgive us, cleanse us, teach us, and strengthen us to obey Him (John 14:14). In order to keep watch, we must pray for endurance and freedom from distractions (Hebrews 12:2; Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18). We must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we live with the eager expectation of the Lord’s return and expect persecution until then (2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 24:9; 1 Peter 4:12), we are more likely to keep our lives pure and our hearts ready to meet Him.”


For full article


Praying and watching are simple tasks but effective! We pray through God’s Word reminding ourselves of God’s Promises and Truths and watch for Holy Spirit’s leading! Remember Elijah in the cave. God’s voice bids him to move forward in ministry to anoint Elisha. God reminds Elijah that he’s not alone and that all is not lost. I hope that you find comfort in those wonderful truths and hear God’s Voice in His Living Word bid you press ahead!

Published by leestanfill@yahoo.com

Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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