Despair is not the easiest subject to start a discussion with. So, we started things off gently with some synonyms:

  • Sadness
  • Lost
  • Hopelessness
  • The realization you are at the "point of no return"

Okay, that didn’t make us feel much better

Mark shared a story from when he was a youth pastor. He was not much older than several of the teens in the program so it was easy to get along and be friendly with them, but yet they weren’t really peers. The adults and other people around he could talk to, but again they had their own families and lives too. He was completely surrounded by people, but he sometimes felt alone.

I could relate to that myself, but again – still not thrilled with the discussion.

Danelle shared next about struggling with depression in her college years. She went to a doctor and was given antidepressants, but she sometimes felt numb to her surroundings – it sometimes felt as if great feelings were being numbed as much as the down feelings. She didn’t like what was happening. She tried different medication and still felt like something was missing and knew she didn’t want to go on this never-ending cycle.

I know a few people struggling this same way.

We took some time to read some Bible verses out loud as a group; there was a common theme occurring like this example from 2 Corinthians:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
— 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

In every bad thing, there is never "The End." There is always hope in our struggle, whether we recognize it or not. God provides ways toward mental health.

So what is opposite of despair then? Happiness? I am afraid not. 



We again read from the Bible and one verse stood out to me: 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
— Romans 15:13

I know that feeling. It happened after the North Minneapolis Tornadoes. The temperature was in the 90s that day and my car didn’t have air conditioning and I was miserable. I took the exit off of Highway 94 and at the top of the ramp was a guy with a sign that said, “lost everything, anything can help.” I had a bag of potato chips, which I gave him. He asked if I had any water, and I didn’t. He thanked me and I drove to my delivery. I then needed gas, so went to the gas station, got a drink for me and the biggest bottle of water they sold, and drove back. I stopped on the bridge at the top of the ramp he was at, honked my horn and when he came over I gave him the water. He said “God bless you” and I instantly was covered in goosebumps from head to toe on the hottest day of the year. That is the Holy Spirit. That is joy.

Joy was the result when there was only misery and despair. Joy is what we need in order to fight against despair. Happiness is an emotion Joy is an experience of pervading contentment and gratefulness in the God who loves us.

Your challenge this week  

Be extra attentive this week and listen to the people around you. Be a witness to them. Give them hope by sharing the Holy Spirit.

But remember, if you just do something nice for someone you might get happiness – but if you truly share the Holy Spirit you will feel joy.