The first week of Consecration week was challenging; everything went to the left and I could control nothing (as though I could even control anything)
In 1992, Queen Elizabeth used the phrase annus horribilis to describe just how tough that year had been; in other words, that year was a hot mess.
I looked up Latin for a horrible week and it is iter sabbati.
My intent was to walk into Consecration like a boss — Instead it was my iter sabbati; it was a horrible week.
There is a Facebook page titled “Humans of New York.” A line from a recent story caught my eye. A man described his coming to gasping for air in an ambulance, most likely the consequence of a heroin overdose.
As he recounted his story, and the decision he made to be clean and sober for 160 days, he said, “There comes a point when you’re given the gift of desperation.”
I instantly connected with that phrase and stretched it out even more, that sometimes God allows us the gift of desperation. We are at our wits end; we are facing tough challenges; the ends don’t meet, the finances run out, the spouse takes an extended hike, the job locks its doors and we are left holding the gift of desperation.
What do you do when you’ve done all you can and you’re left holding the gift of desperation?
I say hold on to your hope in spite of this because this gift just might be the push you need to make a decision you may never have made but really needed to make. .
Here’s the thing:
Desperation can either push you into a positive space or it might lead to self-destruction.
Desperation can make you look inward to reassess the choices you have made or it can make you look outward to blame people and circumstances, to act out, to implode.
Handed the gift of desperation, the Facebook man chose to turn away from heroin in order to reclaim his life but he could have just as well celebrated being revived and then returned to the needle.
He chose life. He opened the gift of desperation and chose life.
Have you ever found yourself in a state that literally sucked the wind out of you, where you found yourself wandering around in an emotional fog because you didn’t know where to begin, what step to take next?
What is one to do when you find yourself holding the gift of desperation and you find yourself holding it between a rock and a hard place and when you open it you are faced with hard choices, neither is pleasant but one is better for you than the other.
Whenever I’m in the car, I have the radio tuned to listen to the different (and sound) bible studies. This time, however, tuned to a station which airs, most of the time, hymns and contemporary gospel and this one hymn came on that I have not heard in years:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
Yes I’d rather be led by his nail pierced hands
Than to be the king of a best domain and beheld in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today
When I got home, I searched for the song, the same exact singers and arrangement I’d heard in the car. I found it and I went to sleep to that song playing that night. In the days that followed, when the spectre of what used to be raised its ugly face to mock me, I’d sing,, “I’d rather have Jesus.”
God’s allows us the gift of desperation to pull us back into that space where our focus is absolutely on Him in spite of those challenging shifts in our lives, where we begin to declare, in spite of loss or change or isolation, “I’d rather have Jesus.”
I love psalm. It is my go-to psalm, verses 1-3:
1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
Someone is in hot pursuit of David. It could be King Saul before David becomes King or it could be his own son, Absalom, who is determined to dethrone the King, his father. Whatever the circumstance, David is in big trouble. He holds the gift of desperation and his only choice, right now, is to flee in order not to suffer the circumstances the gift contains. But, is this His only way of escape?
Yes, David is on the run. He knows that trouble is on His tracks, but he also knows the true source of His strength. He looks beyond the hills to the source of His help. His help comes from the Lord. Given the gift of desperation, He turns to the Rock of His salvation cries out because, as Dr. Tony Evans writes in his commentary, David recognizes his own limitations and God’s unconquerable might.
When trouble approaches, infringes, throws at us the gift of desperation, we must stop, take a deep breath and turn to the Proverbs 18:10 God, whose name is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe!”:
Hear my CRY, O God
This cry is a ringing cry, a shrill cry. I know there are others who are dealing with trouble, Lord, but right now this just about me; I want my cry to be sharp enough to cut through the chatter because I need you NOW!
Attend unto my prayer (plea)
Listen up, God; listen to me, hear me, cup your ear and lean towards me, give me your undivided attention. Hear my plea, please because I need you to intervene on my behalf.
Maybe someone thinks I’m being a bit brash in calling God out this way, but I’m His child and I’m in trouble.
How many of you have children? What did your children do as little ones, or maybe even now as adults, when they bumped their head, or skinned their knee, or cut a finger, or needed your help?
Did they just whisper, “Mom, I need you,” or did they scream as loud as they could, “Mom I need you!” They kept repeating it, “Mom, I need you,” until you responded to help, and if they cried out in a crowd, no matter how many other kids were crying, you knew their voice and you responded with quickness.
From the ends of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I
Location is not an issue; no matter where I am when trouble comes, I will cry out to You; when I am so overcome by wave after wave after wave of trouble, rescue me so that I am not pulled under.
Listen as God speaks to Israel in Isaiah 43:1-3
1 But now, this is what the Lord says—
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I know that this particular text is aimed at Israel but I also know that God is the same God today that He was then. I extrapolate from His words to Israel that when I hold the gift of desperation, I know
He has redeemed, brought me back to Him through the blood of Jesus.
He knows my name and calls me by name.
He is with me when the waters of trouble threaten to pull me under, He rescues me and when the heat of the moment becomes intense, I am not consumed.
I am His. He is mine.
When I hold the gift of desperation, I can either dissolve into despair and return to my old ways or I can cry out to God knowing He will hear my cry, that I can trust Him to lead me through the valley to His place of peace and comfort. I like what Habbakuk:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 eyet I will rejoice in the Lord; fI will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
I think will trust Him even though, even when I’m holding that gift of desperation!