“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
We live in a world that is filled with despair. The enemy strikes hard with the spirit of despair. It’s deep-seated and it’s everywhere—even within the body of Christ. The devil will scream in our ears, “You’re no good.” “God’s will for you is not good.” “Your situation is hopeless.” It’s hard to live in victory when we believe enemy lies. The dictionary definition of despair is: the complete loss or absence of hope, disheartenment, discouragement, desperation, distress, anguish, depression, misery, defeatism, pessimism, and even suicidal feelings. This doesn’t sound good.
Many of us were shocked when we heard of the death of 63-year-old Robin Williams, the well-known American actor and comedian. Williams, who had all the world’s comfort and fame, ended his own life tragically by hanging himself with a belt in his California home. He entertained millions on stage, film or television, wanting to make others laugh and feel less afraid. He rose to fame starring in many well-known movies such as Dead Poet Society. He was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor three times and won two Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.
But all of this fame and fortune did not meet the inner emptiness in His life that only God could fill. Stardom in the world’s eyes was not enough. The one who made others laugh was himself living in utter despair. He listened to the lies of the enemy saying, “Life is hopeless. Just end it all.”
There is a shocking reality regarding despair and suicide that we cannot ignore. There are 35,000 suicides in America every year, and the suicide rate is the same among Christians and non-Christians. This is alarming. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We ask ourselves, “Why is this so, and what can we do about it? How can we overcome despair within our own lives as well as within our families, friends, and co-workers?”
Transformed by the Renewing of Our Mind
We overcome despair and are transformed by changing how we think and by the renewing of our mind. We need to know what God is like, who we are in Christ (Romans 5), and what we believe.
If we were to admit it personally, there is not one of us who hasn’t had the enemy strike hard at us with feelings of despair at one time or other. We live in the world system, and we fight the devil on a daily basis. There is a battlefield of the mind where we wrestle against the powers of darkness. Intercessors especially are a target of the enemy because the enemy hates prayer. He will try to defeat us through a spirit of despair.
We are called to enjoy our relationship with Jesus fully. We are equipped to experience God’s transforming grace by renewing our minds with the truths that give us the assurance of how God accepts us and views us with mercy (even when we feel weak). Understanding God’s mercy motivates us to give ourselves fully to God with confidence. Read Romans 1-11 and see how the truths of God’s grace and mercy fill these chapters, especially Romans 5-6. See Micah 7:18.
How can we move out of despair to a transforming faith in God? How can we move from the debilitating effects of despair and hopelessness in our own heart and change our thinking?
Ways to Overcome Despair
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Meditating on the following truths and living them out in our personal life will bring transformation to our minds and hearts. We don’t have to live in despair. It is our God-given right to live in joyful confidence. The following are ways you can walk out of despair and hopelessness, and into the transforming power of God through the renewing of your mind:
- Present your body as a living sacrifice – Make it your ambition to love the Lord with all your heart (Matthew 22:37). Give yourself to the Lord in a wholehearted way. God is after your heart. When you give yourself to God in this way even though it is costly, you will find true joy. King David offered to God that which was costly (2 Samuel 24:24). Don’t settle for 95% commitment. He wants you, not partially but 100%.
- Know that the offering of yourself to God is holy and pleasing to Him – He accepts even the weak offering of your love, life, and service as holy because He evaluates you through mercy. It’s sacred to Him and your true worship. It’s holy and pleasing. The giving of yourself moves God deeply. People live in despair because they believe the lie that the offering of themselves to God is not holy or pleasing to Him.
- Do not conform any longer to the world system – Know that it will not bring fulfillment. Don’t measure your life by the world’s values and standards of who you are or how important your life is. The world can never give you value; only God can. Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you what He thinks of you. Listen and accept His evaluation. God’s priority is to conform you to His image. This is more important than trying to accomplish or be something in man’s eyes.
- Know that God has a master plan for your life – You can be confident of this; He will complete His good work in you (Philippians 1:6). Often people are searching and trying to find God’s will. Trust His leadership in your life, and be faithful in the small things. Daily faithfulness is important to God. Faithfulness in little things leads to greatness. Don’t listen to what the world tells you greatness is. It will lead you down a dead-end road. You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
- Know that God’s leadership in your life is good, pleasing, and perfect – God leads you in a way that is good for you. He works all things for good (Romans 8:28). God’s plan is satisfying because it is uniquely designed for your life (Psalm 139). It’s perfect and can’t be improved on.
Finally, learn to say no to Satan’s lies. Don’t agree with him because he is the father of lies (John 8:44). Pull down those strongholds in your mind by renouncing lies about God and who you are in Christ. When condemnation, shame, fear, or despair rise up in your heart to challenge what God promised in His Word, come against it by confessing the Truth and resisting His lies. Memorize and then speak out loud specific verses from God’s Word that combat the lie. Our words are powerful in causing fear or faith to grow in us. You may want to call a friend and have them pray God’s Truth over your life. By learning to agree with God’s Word, you release His power in your life.
It’s time to take charge of negative thinking. You have power to cast down all thoughts of despair and hopelessness. You do not have to be a captive to negative thoughts that lead to despair. You can renew your mind in God’s Word. It’s not by trying harder to change, but by seeing more clearly how God evaluates you. Learn to meditate on Scriptures like Psalm 139 until it sinks deeply into your spirit.
As you renew your mind in these truths an amazing thing happens—Your emotions will be transformed and your behavior will change! You will begin to walk in a transforming faith with a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
My Prayer to God to Overcome Despair
“Dear Lord, I offer my body to You as a living sacrifice. I choose to make it my ambition to love You with all my heart (Matthew 22:37). I thank You that my offering is pleasing, good and acceptable to You. I give to You my feelings of despair, and I confess and renounce the lies that I have been believing [Name those lies specifically]. I renounce and pull down every stronghold about You and who I am in Christ. I ask Your forgiveness for believing these false beliefs, and I bring these lies to the feet of Jesus. I thank you that your blood cleanses me from these false beliefs. I take authority and break the spirit of despair over my life in the Name of Jesus and in its place, what do You want to give me? [Take time to listen quietly for anything the Lord may be saying to you that replaces the lie with His Truth. i.e. A Scriptural verse, a picture, a gentle thought, etc.]
Teach me to confess Your Word out loud and resist Satan’s lies every day. Help me to renew my mind in Your Truth. Help me to no longer conform to the world system. I choose to not listen to the world’s evaluation of who I am. I choose to listen only to Your evaluation. I can be confident that You have a master plan for my life, and You will complete Your work in me (Philippines 1:6). Jesus, I trust Your leadership in my life. I thank You that I am transformed by the renewing of my mind. I will meditate on Your Word every day. [Meditate on Psalm 139 and pray it out loud to the Lord]. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If this article has helped you, please write to me and tell me what God has done for you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff