In the allegory, Pilgrim's Progress, Christian and his fellow traveler Hopeful, are captured by Giant Despair and thrown into his dungeon at Doubting Castle. They lay for four days and night without food or water. When Giant Despair visits, he beats them severely. The giant urges the travelers to end their pain by ending their own lives, but the giant’s advice is not taken.
The giant is enraged and threatens them again, which is too much for Christian. His companion, Hopeful, points out to Christian the previous troubles he had faced and how he made it through each one. The two pray through the night. At daybreak, Christian exclaims, “What a fool am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom called Promise that will (I am persuaded) open and lock in Doubting Castle.”
The story goes on, “That’s good news,” says Hopeful. “Good brother, pluck it out of bosom and try.” The key fits perfectly and releases the two from Giant Despair’s imprisonment.
Despair often feels like a giant. A big, ruthless, powerful giant that clutches its victims feeling like you will never escape. Despair threatens nothing will change about your circumstance. Despair is synonyms with depression, despondency, hopelessness, and gives the impression there is no light. It feels like a blanket over your spirit, preventing it from breathing freely. Its grip can be tight.
Do you know what despairs goal in our life is? To cause us to lose hope. If our hope is gone, we have nothing to live for. Nothing to hope in. No promise for the future. No expectation for our desperate situation.
Despair whispers in our ears that God has failed us.
He doesn’t care.
Just give up.
Let go of all hope.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)
What things have you been praying about and you’re still waiting to be fulfilled? We expect results now. If things don’t change right away, doubt sets in. We ask, “God, where are you?” “Don’t you hear my prayers?” So we stop praying. Stop hoping. Stop expecting.
We're like Christian, imprisoned by our own disbelief. Shackled by our own doubts, while all along, we hold the key to freedom in our own pocket.
When Christian finally pulled the key out of his pocket, Hopeful responded, “That’s good news.” You see, the key Christian held were the promises of God. The truth of God’s word. The hope we cling tightly to as we travel to the Celestial City.
Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint.” When despair tries to imprison, we need to remember, our hope…continual…patient...enduring…hope, will never disappoint us. We may have to wait, for God’s ways are not ours, but the outcome will satisfy. We will not be left standing abandoned or confused, like one who puts their trust in an idol or in man’s strength. We serve a living God who hears and answers prayers, who does not put to shame those who faithfully wait for Him.
So, dear Christian, keep your eyes straight ahead. Trusting and hoping in the God who is alive and oversees every portion of your life. He has not forgotten. He hears every prayer. He sees every tear. Hold tightly to His promises. He will not disappoint you.
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