Have you ever been in the “depths of despair,” when it seems that everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, when it seems to be darker than it ever has been before?
This will happen sometimes in life, and it is a lonely feeling. What can we do? The answer is found in the Bible, the place where all answers are to be found.
The prophet Jonah shows us what to do when we find ourselves in the “depths of despair.” He tried to avoid doing what God had told him to do, and he tried running from God. We cannot forget that Jonah was a real person who had emotions and fears like all men. His mission was to go to the nation of Nineveh — the enemy of his people — and tell them to repent and turn to God (Jonah 1:1-2). Nineveh was an evil and wicked nation; it was the capital of the nation of Assyria, which would conquer the northern kingdom of Israel in years to come. Archaeologists have found artifacts that depict the soldiers putting out the eyes of their captives and placing fish hooks through the lips of those they were leading away as slaves. These were wicked people, but God wanted to give them a chance to repent and turn back to him. This was Jonah’s mission, but he chose to ignore God and tried to run from his responsibility.
Jonah could not run from God; his effort was not successful. As he sailed to Tarshish, a great storm arose, and the ship was tossed about nigh unto sinking. As the sailors labored to save their ship, Jonah slept, until they woke him and told him to cry out to his God. Jonah told the sailors to cast him overboard to save them, but they continued to try saving the boat. Then, as a last resort, they cast him overboard. Jonah was swallowed by a great fish that God had prepared.
Once in the belly of a fish in the depths of the ocean, Jonah began to realize that he was alone and in the depths of despair. He cried out to the only one who can hear him and help him — God. “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.’ The waters compassed me about, even to the soul. The depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever. Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, o Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto thee into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2).
Just as Jonah came to know that God was his only hope, so must we come to that same conclusion when we are “in the depths of despair.” He can see us through all our hard times, our lonely times, our difficult times. There is nowhere else to turn; man by himself cannot handle all that life sends his way. Some try, struggling and falling time and time again, when the creator of all waits to help, if only they would turn to him and obey his commands.
Turn to God today, believe in Jesus that he is the son of God, repent of your sins, confess before men that Jesus is the Christ the son of God, be baptized for the remission of your sins and then live for God every day of your life.
God is the answer, but we must run to him, not away from him. He will lift us from the “depths of despair.”