When You’re Tempted to Despair

Now you’ve done it. You’ve blown it again.
How can you call yourself a Christian? You keep doing that same sin over and over again.
As if God would forgive someone like you!

Do similar accusations ever swirl in your mind? Are you tempted to believe that God won’t forgive you this time? Have you ever questioned whether or not you are truly His?

I’ve often, with a saddened heart, wondered how I can love Jesus so much and want to be like Him so badly and yet still reflect His image so poorly. As the eldest sibling in my family, as the supervisor at my job, and as the Sunday school teacher of fifteen plus little children, I know the importance of being a godly example to those who look up to me.

But I’m also well aware of how I often prove to be a poor ambassador for Christ. In the past, whenever I failed to act in godly manner, I considered my sin to be unforgivable and my testimony ruined, but by God’s grace through the encouragement of more mature Christians, I’ve learned to see my despair with new eyes.

This is why we need older, wiser Christians in our lives so desperately. When our feelings shout one thing, they can point us to the truth. When I am tempted to despair, they’ve shown me these three things.

1. God’s got me (and you!).

We may, for a time, lose our assurance, but we don’t lose Jesus. Listen to His words in John 10:28–29: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

He holds you in the very palm of His hand. He won’t drop you or discard you simply because you miss the mark.

2. It’s not about what we’ve done but about what He has done.

God’s Word teaches that it is by grace we have been saved and not our good works (Eph. 2:8–9), yet we often lose sight of that when we sin, thinking we have somehow altered our status before the Lord. Don’t get me wrong. Sin is an offense to God, and we must take sin seriously because God takes sin seriously. But our salvation isn’t dependent upon us, thankfully, because even our best of works are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).

We were rescued through Christ’s work on the cross. All of our sin was placed upon Him. The wrath we deserved was poured out upon Jesus, so “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). When we are loaded with guilt and shame, we ought to, as Robert Murray M’Cheyne so beautifully prescribed, “with every one look at self, take ten looks at Jesus.”

3. The struggle is real (and good!).

There is a difference between embracing sin and struggling with it. The latter proves a sensitivity to our sin and a desire to turn from it and obey the Lord. So we can be encouraged if we genuinely mourn over our sin. That’s the Spirit working in us!

There is a hymn by Charitie Lees Bancroft that captures more eloquently the work of Christ. (We’ve included a link to this song at the bottom of this post.) Pay close attention to the lyrics.

Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest whose name is Love, who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands. My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in heav’n He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died my sinful soul is counted free.
For God the Just, is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb! My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM, the King of Glory and of Grace.
One with Himself, I cannot die; my soul is purchased by His blood.
My life is hid with Christ on high, with Christ, my Savior and my God.

Instead of falling into despair over our sin, we can let it drive us to the cross. Your sin doesn’t mean you can no longer be a representative for Christ but rather that you are able to tell the story of His grace.

About Author

Kaitlin Dendekker

As a single young woman, Kaitlin knows the challenge of resisting the world's pull but can testify of the full satisfaction that's found only in the Lord. Her primary goal is to point the eyes of women to Jesus Christ, making Him the Lover of their soul. In her free time, she can be found either writing, painting, baking, playing piano, or reading (usually three books on the go). She also teaches Sunday school to a lively bunch of young children.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

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  • Rose

    So good!! Loved it and know just the person I am going to send it to! Thank you so much!

  • Morgan

    I’ve been stressing a bit about this for awhile. I know it’s nothing I’ve done that’s saved me, but I struggle with feeling like I still gotta earn God’s approval (which is impossible without faith in Christ). Then I struggle with feeling like I’m too blech for God, not spiritual enough (can’t even hear God when He talks to me, probably don’t listen well though :), not positive enough, etc…

    • Getting into Gods Word is an amazing way to connect and to learn about God. Sometimes I struggle with the thought that God won’t forgive me. I have a favorite verse I refer to when I feel like that. You can also pray to God for wisdom and for him to open your ears so you can listen. I still struggle with listening to God too, but I’ve gotten better. It just takes time and it’s learning experience. 🙂
      Try to open your Bible everyday, I read a proverb every morning.

  • Savannah

    I feel like that a lot. I just don’t feel good enough.

  • I don’t know what to do… I believe God has asked me to witness to a few rough looking guys at my school that have the same lunch as me. I have no idea who there are or anything. What do I even say? I feel guilty. It often takes me months or weeks to do what God has asked me to do. How do I do this?

    • Kaitlin

      I know what that’s like! But don’t think you need to lay out the whole Gospel to them right away. Do baby steps. Get to know them a bit better by showing an interest in their lives, asking them questions, etc. Do kind things to them and by so doing….”heap coals of fire not their heads”. It may seem hard at first, but if you believe God has called you to this, He WILL equip you. Blessings to you as you endeavor to spread the Gospel!

      • You are such a big help! Thank you so much!!! 😄😄😄

    • Morgan

      It takes me awhile to do what God tells me to, too. I know I should do it immediately, but I stall by saying, “Maybe that wasn’t God… I’ll wait and see for more confirmation” and stuff like that. If God is telling you to do something, He’s telling you for a good reason. We just gotta trust Him. Easier said than done (our fault, not His, obviously :P), but it’s what we gotta do.