How can theodicy questions lead us closer to God? They foster desperation because the answers to such questions will never be fully grasped this side of the grave. Our suffering and others’ suffering will always be shrouded by the mystery of “Why”? It is at this dead-end where our response will take us either to a place of earthly desperation – resulting in hopelessness, depression, and exasperation – or to a place of holy desperation – resulting in faith, hope, and confidence in God. Desperation (earthly or holy) always involves the feeling of hopelessness.
Earthly desperation is hopelessness with self and others to deliver us from our dilemma… and it ends there. Such a person’s gaze rarely moves upward to God. Holy desperation also involves hopelessness in self and others for deliverance but this was never an expectation. These desperate ones have rejected such hopes because they have discovered a greater hope in God. Those who have discovered holy desperation have usually done so only after their own resources failed to deliver the peace and hope that was expected or promised. It is in these places of hopelessness where God reveals his sufficiency and anchor of hope… if we let him. Though we may be challenged and stretched, here alone is where we find the necessary soil for holy desperation to take root and sprout.
Some people don’t like the phrase “holy desperation” because of the sense of neediness and hopelessness it evokes. Yet, isn’t the precursor to true and living faith the realization of ones inability to do and be all that one should? When we have lost hope in all else we discover God as our only hope… this is the essence of holy desperation. How desperate are you to have a faith in God that is so real and secure that the winds of circumstance and the floods of emotions cease to rattle you – where the bondage of fear no longer controls you but your faith controls it? Ironically, such faith is only attainable to those who clearly see and understand their personal inability to lay hold of such faith. These individuals have learned to possess the essential quality of heart called holy desperation. Such desperate ones are aware of their lack and quick to admit their needs to God because they know him as their Provider.
So, central to our way forward is admitting desperation as part of the human experience… not a reality merely reserved for the unlucky few. In this quest for hope, we will see how honesty plays a vital role. Next week, we look at this connection.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever experienced times of earthly desperation and holy desperation? How were they similar and how different?