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despair and hope

I wish I had written this.  I did not.  I suspect if you’re under the age of 40 you’ll find this confusing, odious, or maybe even a downer.  Nonetheless, it is the truth.  Read it slowly.  Then, read it again.  -MDP-

Despair and Hope by Richard Rohr

Rising and dying are closely related.  Despair, I suspect is another kind of dying and another kind of pain.  It is not so much the loss of persons as the loss of ideals, visions and plans.  For people who hitched their future or their hopes to certain stars, the loss of those stars is bitter and disabling.

It usually happens slowly as we recognize unfulfilled dreams and as we gradually face our own impotence and the “sin of the world” (John 1:29).  We are forced to let go of images: images that we built in our youth, images that solidified and energized our own self-image.  The crash of images is experienced as a death of the spirit, as a loss of hope, as a darkness almost too much to bear.  Many, if not most, become tired and cynical while maintaining the old words that have become cliches even to themselves.

Spiritual growth is the willing surrender of images in favor of True Images.  It is a conversion that never stops, a surrender that never ceases.  It is a surrender of self-serving and self-created images of self, of others, of God.  Those who worship the images instead of living the reality simply stop growing spiritually.  In this light, the First Commandment takes on a whole new power and poignancy:

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (Exodus 20:4-5)

It seems that many people, religious people in particular, would sooner relate to images than to the reality where both despair and God lie hidden.

Until we walk with this despair, we will not know that our hope was hope in ourselves, in our successes, in our power to make a difference, in our image of what perfection and wholeness should be.  Until we walk with this despair, we will never uncover the real hope on the other side of human achievement.  Until we allow the crash and crush of our images, we will never discover the real life beyond what only seems like death.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Mike's wanna be
    August 27, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Being a true follower of Jesus has always been about dying to self … not living. That’s the whole cross gig.

  2. August 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I know I’m not one of you old folks (sorry)… But I think I’m learning just a little more about this as I move forward. Thanks for posting this, Mike.

  3. Jordan Snellenberger
    August 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this Papa…. I needed this word in this season!! Love you

  4. August 28, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Incredible post…. quite simply loved it!

  5. August 28, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Heard that. Still on the front end of the journey, but I’ve gone through that process of realizing my hope was in myself and the brokenness that comes with that.

  6. CoreyJ
    August 28, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Mm hmm. Yup.
    Gotta love Richard Rohr. This is a revelation my generation needs. Thanks Mike

  7. Kayla
    August 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for reminding us of stuff we don’t always want to hear. It’s needed and necessary.

  8. August 28, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I think I understand less of this than I realize… but God’s been speaking to me, walking me through some of this lately. Thanks for sharing!

  9. September 2, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Mike! Wanted to mention that I still read the devotional by Rohr you gave me every morning. As with the excerpt you quoted, I don’t usually understand it right away and takes me reading it a few times and then discussing it with someone else before I scratch the surface of what’s going on. Thanks for the gift!

  10. Kathy
    September 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Good, hard but necessary……it’s the “walk of life” he’s called us to! Thanks for sharing….missing you and Patti! Come back soon!

  11. Stacy P.
    September 7, 2012 at 7:39 am

    This is really, really good. “the surrender that never ceases…” that’s so freakin’ hard. but it’s so good. thanks for this.

  12. September 26, 2012 at 5:12 am

    So i guess i am on the other side of 40 and see only what I can see now. I am glad there is something that goes beyond death….cause if that was the end of the road…that would really suck. Miss you.

    • September 26, 2012 at 6:04 am

      Oh yeah, there’s plenty more after death. But, the greatest leaders have figured out how to die before they die. They don’t lead and simultaneously feed their “false self”. They have grappled with their limitations, thus plunging them into a surrender that allows God to move through them without the “ego” effect. It’s refreshing to see it happen… but, it’s a rare sighting! Miss and love you too! xo

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