Twelve months ago I wrote in my journal, “Lord, I feel so desperate. Take away this desperation.”
Time had done it’s job and shown me the insufficiency of my wisdom and wit to sail smoothly through life. I’d messed things up. I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I’d frazzled myself in a state of busyness. I’d reached the end of my sufficiency (or perhaps a better way to put it is that I realized my lack thereof). I was desperate.
It’s twelve months later. This morning as I took my place on the couch, opened my Bible, and began to pray, that desperation met me once more. I looked back at the previous days and saw so many times I fell short. I looked ahead to today, tomorrow, and the next day, seeing so many opportunities for things to go wrong. I wondered if I had the energy to do what needed to be done, the joy to laugh at the times to come, or the endurance to fight the sin in my own heart. I was desperate for something outside of myself to redeem the past and carry me through the future. That desperation drove me to the Father.
It’s been doing that all year long.
We don’t like to feel desperate. We don’t want to feel like we are lacking what is necessary to live our lives. But we are. We don’t have what it takes. We’re all desperate. I thought that coming to terms with my own desperation was proof of some sort of spiritual failure, but I’ve come to see that we must meet the end of ourselves to embrace the sufficiency of Christ. When faced with our own desperation, we can either choose despair by continuing to look to ourselves for what is lacking, or we can find rest by turning to the Savior who gives all that we need.
The way to turn our desperation in for rest is very simple. So simple that we often overlook it. It hit me one night as I was singing a song to my sister while tucking her into bed. She’s almost five, there’s an age gap of sixteen years between us, and she loves the song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I was singing it to her and after we finished she asked if we could pray about her fear of the dark. When we’d finished praying and I kissed her goodnight, she sat up and said, “Madelyn, I shouldn’t be scared anymore. God heard me.” I , of course, said, “Yes! He did!” and smiled as I flipped the light switch on my way out. But her response to prayer stuck with me. Her fears of the dark were stilled, not because the dark was eradicated, but because she took the words of that old song seriously. She simply took it to the Lord in prayer and believed that He heard her.
What if our desperation wasn’t the curse we sometimes feel that it is? What if it is one more opportunity to come to the Father, weak and heavy laden, and ask for the rest only He can give? Desperation, when continuously taken to the Lord in prayer, can turn us from away from a feeble sense of self-dependence or despair and be traded in for quiet rest in the God who loves us and has accomplished on our behalf all that we can never do. We need Him, not just on the day we are saved, but every day after. We are not sufficient, His grace is. Being desperate reminds us of that reality. It shakes us from our stupor and kills our pride. It leads us, once again, to Savior.
Like my sister and the dark, sometimes (most of the time) the things that leave us feeling desperate don’t go away. Work deadlines. School deadlines. Relational tension. Political confusion. Church struggles. Bills to be paid. Illnesses that won’t go away. Children that need us. Spouses depending on us. Decisions to make. Questions to answer. Those things stick around, and if we’re waiting for the day they disappear to rest, we won’t find it until heaven. We must keep going to the Lord, asking Him to teach us what it means to rely on Him. To take our insufficiency and short comings, and ask Him to supply our needs. We find rest by continually turning to Him, knowing He hears and He cares.
I find myself desperate most mornings. He hasn’t taken away that feeling of insufficiency and that ever-present awareness that I am utterly incapable to do and be all that is necessary. Many times throughout the day those silent cries go up, asking Him to give me what I need to do what He has for me to do. Each night, when I hit the pillow, I realize that He answered those cries. He’s carried me through once more. I’ve stopped asking Him to lift the desperation, and ask Him instead to use it to grow my dependency on Him. In unmasking my own insufficiency, He is teaching me to rest by relying on His sufficiency. What a gift.
Are you desperate this morning? Me too.
Are you weak and heavy laden? Me too.
Cumbered with a load of care? Me too.
There’s only one thing to do. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
We will find a solace there.