How Can I overcome despair against hope for salvation
trust and perseverance is the way to life
Since we are so sinful, live in a world with so much temptation and have such a difficult time changing, when some of us really learn how challenging it really is to accept God’s saving mercy, so to be saved, the evil one can cause us to despair for all may seem lost.
Of course, we should be concerned with obtaining salvation, without it we would be a fool. For if we don’t change and lose our desire for sin, all will be lost. But that concern can’t become so great that we stop seeking God and/or dwell in despair…that won’t bear us any fruits. That isn’t trust in God.
“I plead with you–never, ever give up on hope [for Eternal Life], never doubt [God wants you saved], never tire [in your efforts to learn, change and grow to truly love God] and never become discourage [God loves you; with His help you can obtain true contrition/a saving faith]. Be not afraid [trust in God]!”
–Pope St. John Paul II
We must understand, God doesn’t love us, by enlightening us to the truth, just to watch us die in misery. No! He wants us saved through the truth. We must seek His mercy.
Listen to David’s plea through the Psalms…his heart full of grief over his sins as he begged God for help to save Him.
“O God, listen to my prayer, do not hide from my pleading, attend to me and reply; with my cares, I cannot rest [I’m falling into sin]…O that I had wings like a dove to fly away [If you willed for me to leave, I would fly from all that causes me to sin] and be at rest [with You away from all this sin that surrounds me]. So I would escape far away and take refuge in the desert [where no evil temptations exist]. I would hasten to find a shelter from the raging wind, from the destructive storm, O Lord, and from their plotting tongues [that trick me into believing lies].
For I can see nothing but violence [sin] and strife [anger] in the city. Night and day they [evil] patrol high on the city walls [looking for someone to devour]. It [Where I live] is full of wickedness and evil; it is full of sin. Its streets are never free from tyranny [cruelty] and deceit [lairs against the truth]…[But] I will cry to God and the Lord will save me. Evening, morning and at noon I will cry and lament. He will deliver my souls in peace in the attack against me…O Lord, I will trust in You [to make my heart reject sin, despite the horrible conditions you will for me to live in]” (Psalm 55:2-24).
But how can we have true hope for Our Savior to save us, if we have so little desire to change?
Therefore, we must open up our hearts to sincerely want to do God’s will perfectly (sincerely want God’s love), from the first moment we knew we must change, all the way to our death. Then, from following that will, God will guide us to Life. But for many this is hard to do.
Those who have a great desire to change, and know God can change them, will simply know what God wills for them, and change one small step at a time towards a saving faith and perfection. They will have the strength follow through with God’s will, and then grow in faith one improvement at a time.
“Those whose hearts are enlarged by confidence in God run swiftly on the path of perfection [towards Heaven]. They not only run, they fly; because, having placed all their hope in the Lord, they are no longer weak as they once were. They become strong with the strength of God, which is given to all who put their trust in Him.”
— St. Alphonsus
However, if our enlightenment to our misery is great, but our desire to change ins’t quite strong enough…this can be a big problem. Because without a true desire to amend, most won’t be able to hear what God wants us to do correctly, if at all and even if we can hear Him, we simply won’t have a strong enough desire to do what is necessary (bear the cross) to change, since we will still have such little grace.
Therefore grace is what we need.
God Uses Our Failures
We should know, with each failure to amend, God desires to humble us (send us grace). God will use each moment of our lives, if we allow Him, even our sins, to draw us to Him. From our failures, God wants to increase our awareness of our great sinfulness, so we can hate our self, while knowing our unmistakable inability to resist temptation (lack of grace) and come to fully understand our great need for Him (His strength/mercy).
Many can’t understand how self-hatred can be good. Most think it leads to depression and a life of sadness. It can lead to that, if we don’t turn to God to be our everything, knowing we are nothing and need Him for every thought, word and deed.
For those with worldly self-hatred, that is fueled by self-pity (wanting to be something or someone we are not) not sorrow for sins, which leads to depression and death. But for those with a godly self-hatred that leads to a total surrender to Christ and salvation.
“Wherefore, when such a soul is deprived of the thing she loves, that is, internal [feeling God’s love] or external consolation [the pleasure that comes from the world], the internal being the consolation received from Me, the external being that which she had from the creature, and when temptations and the persecutions of men come on her [when she sees her weakness and inability to escape sin or be comforted], her heart is full of grief.
And, as soon as the eye feels the grief and suffering of the heart [from her failures], she begins to weep with a tender and compassionate sorrow, pitying herself with the spiritual compassion of self-love [tears moved from self-love/pride]; for her self-will is not yet crushed and destroyed in everything, and in this way she lets fall sensual tears — tears, that is, of spiritual passion [wanting her will/to be stronger and not God’s/accepting her weakness/turning to Him for her strength].
But, growing, and exercising herself in the light of self-knowledge (growing and working to understand her great sinfulness), she conceives displeasure at herself and finally perfect self-hatred [perfectly hating of who she really is].
FROM THIS [self-hatred] she draws true knowledge of My goodness with a fire of love, and she begins to unite herself to Me, and to conform her will to Mine and so to feel joy and compassion.”
–God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna
This full understanding and acceptance of our misery must burn in our hearts and true understanding of our need for God’s mercy must consume our minds, so we will desire to surrender our will perfectly for God’s. This is what God intends to bring from our failures.
Our failures aren’t meant to bring us to despair, but are meant to cause one hate ourselves so greatly, we will stop seeking our will and truly seek God’s help/guidance in literally everything. We must grow in our nothingness…so God can be everything.
Understanding how much we have inflicted Our Lord with suffering from our sins and what punishment we deserve and how little ability we have to amend, for those who believe God truly wants them saved (trust in Him), should cause us to leave all we desire in the world and only desire God’s will, so He can lead us to Life.
You see it is our pride (self-love) that rejects it all. We become filled with the desire for pleasure and doing things our way. Therefore, what is more effective in humbling a soul than constantly failing to amend day after day?
Such great failure can crush someone’s pride and can cause us to hate our sinful self to such a degree we won’t want to do anything on our own ever again.
Meaning we won’t desire to think one thought, say one word or perform one action from sinful impulse again…we will stop reacting and SEEK TO DO ALL THROUGH PRAYER. We will fully understand, without much grace (God’s help), all of our impulses are that of self-love (sin), not love of God through love of our neighbor…Then we will finally surrender our whole will to God’s.
God’s grace can do everything, which is the only way to Life, since we can’t follow Christ to Heaven if we are doing things our way. His way is what saves!
We Must Do Something
But if we are going to receive grace from failing, we must try. We can’t fail if we never do anything to even attempt to change. Some effort to improve loving God must be made. If we have no desire to do anything…anything at all, then we are in a very sad state, which I will explain how to hopefully escape later.
But we must try to do something…even if it is something so ridiculously small to improve our living of the faith (following Christ). We can do this! God will help us.
But we should know, there are some ways our failures won’t reap us any grace, that is if we seek things too great for us, from our pride. We will fail and never grow, since we sought to do great things from self-love and not humility. Some humility must be in what we do or we will reject all grace.
We can try things too great for us, not from pride, but just so we can figure out what we can do…to find out how weak (lacking grace) we are. If what we do is too hard, and we fail in our attempt to change, we can lessen it or find something else to try…and keep on reducing or changing until we find where grace and our desire meet and we can CHANGE…even if it is ever so slightly.
However, it is better to start at the bottom and work our way up…rather than to start to great and reduce. But many of us will fell horrible about needing to do something so slight, as I have mentioned below, to promote change. Ah, but that is our pride trying to convince us we must do great things…no. We are to do what we can’ even very little things, but with great humility are most pleasing to God. It is the humility that counts, not what fantastic virtue of Christ we partook in.
There are endless things we can do or things that we shouldn’t do, to grow closer to the image of Christ. But everything must be done through discipline. We can’t just say, oh, sometime today, I’m going to _____(do something). No, what we seek to change must be scheduled (if possible). We should pick what we are going to do and when we are going to do it…and stick to it.
Make a commitment to God and do your best to never sway from it. If you fail to stick to your commitment, do repent straight to God (at first notice) and try to make up for the broken commitment and go right back into the commitment again tomorrow. Then confess that sin in confession at first availablity. Breaking commitments to God isn’t no big deal as some like to make missing our change out to be; it can kill us if we don’t take this seriously.
God isn’t a God of disorder, but One of order and discipline, and we must become organized and disciplined too, if we seek to make any real changes in our lives…since our slothfulness will kill us every time.
Therefore, make a little commitment to God (wanting to love Him and save our soul)…seek to change something into becoming more like Christ–but once the commit is made never quit or miss it–only moving forward after we mastered this change and add another. Write it down…place notes around your house or work, so to not forget, seek God’s for help and DO IT:
For example do just one of the following:
- Increase a prayer: add a three word prayer (Jesus help us) or thirty second prayer (The Our Father or Hail Mary) to our day
- Increase reading the Bible: Randomly open up the Bible and read a verse from the New Testament (excluding Revelation,which isn’t read until we are very active in living the faith) and ask God to help you live it.
- Reduce an attachment: If we love resting with the TV everyday instead of God, don’t quite it all together. Quit 15 – 30 mins. earlier than you normally would. If we look forward to partaking in a particular worldly pleasure, but don’t have the grace to remove it all together, cut the time we partake in it down, or find something less enjoyable to do.
- Increase spiritual reading: Wake up 5 mins. earlier to read spiritual works of the saints…like St. Alphonsos “The Way of Salvation [Saving Faith] and Perfection”
- Fast/sacrifice from a pleasures of the world: intentionally doing something that isn’t our first pick…ex. If we like soda with our lunch, have water. If we like our AC set to 72 make it 75. Reject the pleasure for the cross and make it very small, but stick with it. Do it once a week, then twice, then three days a week etc.
- Carry a cross without complaining: if we find ourselves always complaining over a certain thing, then
- Remove what is causing us to sin:
- Remove a sin we have the strength to remove: some sins are very habitual
- Cut back on committing a sin that is hard to remove: if a sin is too hard to remove, instead of removing the sin altogether, simply choose a specific time or event when you won’t commit it. ex.
- Do a work of mercy for another:
- Don’t do what we want:
- Focus on doing what God wants us to do:
Oh, but if we are too proud, and we won’t stoop this low and resort to this level of change as what we need to grow…then we will die. Yes, sometimes, even us “faithful” people need to do almost nothing at all, with great humility and desire to change for us to grow. But don’t worry, this level of change won’t last forever, since we will increase in God’s grace, from each successful change we make. Then we will be able to increase what we are doing, towards the goals God has for us, towards becoming perfectly like Christ. To learn more please read, “How to be a True Follower of Christ.”
We Should Despair
However, if we aren’t learning from our failures, nor growing in greater hatred of our sinful self (gaining humility), nor changing at all, then we should despair against hope for salvation. Yes, we should despair! We aren’t doing what is needed to be saved. Eternal life will be lost, if we don’t change.
If having such little desire to love God is within us, even though we know we must change, that should leave anyone without hope, since we are in the Light (understand our need to change) but we are rejecting Gods’ mercy (the strength to change), which is meant to lead us to Life. No mercy–no hope. That is the perfect definition of death–rejecting Mercy. Hopefully our despair over our impending doom will cause us to really seek out God.
If we aren’t really seeking God, nor learning, nor growing towards the goal of obtaining a saving faith and then perfection (like sadly most live), and we don’t despair, then we are worse off than all of the rest. Without despair over our obvious doom, our blindness to the great judgement that awaits us from our attachment to sin and the world, has so stripped so greatly–causing our fear of the Lord to be so weak–we are without hope/doomed. If we can’t even see or know we aren’t saved…then how can we ever seek Our Savior to save us.
But if we can see, then at least God can one day use that knowledge to help save us. Horribly, even greater punishment awaits us for rejecting mercy through such Light…Oh, we don’t REALLY know of our great need for mercy and the eternal terror that awaits because of our great love for sin; if we did we would run to God to help us change. To learn more please read, “Who Suffers the Most in Hell.”
God Will Send Help
If we aren’t transformed from our failures into having a great desire to change and aren’t successfully growing from our small efforts to change, and we are still struggling from a lack of grace, but we are honestly seeking God and aren’t firmly resolved to never change, don’t despair to where you do nothing…God will send us help. Unless His patience has run out with us, He will continue to call us perhaps with–a book, a person, an event, an illness, etc.
Something will cause us to want to surrender our sinful will for God’s.
But we must patiently look for God’s help, which much of the time will come in a form of the cross. To learn more please read, “Why Does God Allow Temptation, Suffering and Punishment.” Go to God over and over–begging Him for mercy. Then let go of our pride to accept it when it comes.
Truly, don’t allow yourself to die. Look for how God wants to send you the grace and accept it. He wants to save you.
Need a miracle? Are you so far from grace? Remember, God is the deliver of miracles! Call on every religious person you know, the Mother of God, the angels and saints; pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00pm begging God for the grace you need to change, partake in Confession as often as you can, and go to healing Masses…keep on looking for God’s mercy. It is waiting for you, when God wills, how God wills. Just don’t give up…keep on looking. To learn more please read, “What is God’s Mercy and How Can I Receive it.”
If you are struggling with removing one sin, keep on removing other sins and growing; try to learn what God wills. Much of the time the reason one sin isn’t leaving is because God desires to teach us and/or amend other sins first.
Don’t Make the Mistake
However, most make the mistake most do, when we hear God calling us to repent and change, and only allow His call to reside in our hearts for just a moment; then it is all gone….and our hearts go hard all over again, as we ignore the call and go on living life just the same. This can be quite a temptation especially since it is so painful to constantly think of our eternal demise if we don’t amend our ways.
Please remember at any moment, God who is so merciful and patient with us, might lose patience with us, since we constantly refuse His mercy; This is true. Do not think God will constantly take our abuse of His mercy. Don’t squander God’s call…it might be our last.
“The more we have experienced the patient mercies of God, the more we ought to be afraid of continuing to abuse them, least the time of God’s vengence over take us.”
–St. Alpohnsus, Doctor of the Church
But if we can stay vigilant in seeking God’s mercy, always working to remember and grow our understanding of our misery and of our great need to change, we will see and receive God’s assistance to burn to change.
God Will Save US
When we finally receive that boost, from God’s mercy, to do what is necessary to change (lose our sinful will), no matter how miserable we are, no matter how many sins we return to, IF we truly turn to God over and over again…wanting to change, working to change the best we can (even if we fail over and over again), persisting until the end, God will save us.
We can be drowned in sin…desire countless sins, but since God wants us saved, He will see to it we are, if we TRUST IN HIM–trust all He allows is to help us grow in humility towards a saving faith–if we look to learn, then change and grow from God’s help; we will win the race to Life.
Even if we have such a hard time learning and changing, if we can do something to change for the better we can grow.
Little by little, with amending our ways, just one sin at a time…yes, just one incredibly small improvement is enough, as long as we are putting forth our best effort. Then after we fail to succeed we modifying our efforts to find success.
We must continue with this small improvement growing and growing into greater improvements (greater hatred of sin) until our death, then God will give us the grace to save us (to truly hate our sins). But we MUST be growing in virtue or we are dead.
See Lifting Our Values workbook (download on-line or buy), which can help you do just that, please look at our “How to Grow into the Image of Christ” so we can see our daily resolutions, progress and changes that we need to make and have made clearly in an organized proven to work method.
Don’t Become Self-Absorbed
Like I said, we don’t want to lose our need for change (understanding our misery) and persistence in seeking mercy, but the evil one can cause us to swing our thoughts out of moderation too. For some, I know it can be hard to not focus all of our thoughts on our sinfulness, but that isn’t God’s will. That can cause us to neglect our responsibilities from becoming so focused on our problems and wanting God that we don’t serve as we are called to serve.
Of course, we can’t correctly love others or perform our responsibilities well if we are drowned in sin. The main reason we should be seeking to amend our ways should be so God can correctly use us for the salvation of souls, but we don’t want to go over board in seeking help or thinking of our misery as we might neglect God’s will for us.
If we find ourselves brought into great sadness, even despair, over our inability to change, dwelling on our weakness does nothing…that is the evil one trying to cause us to quit and feel all is lost from self-pity. Truly, self-pity is another form of pride. Stay away from such thoughts.
To not allow our mind to become distressed, we need a perfect balance of:
- hating our sinful self,
- knowing our great weakness,
- knowing our great need for mercy,
- running to God for help,
- giving ourselves to Him as we live His will,
- TRUSTING IN HIM to save us…
…so He can transform us into His true children.
When we fall into despair from understanding our great sinfulness that is because we aren’t correctly balancing our thoughts of our sinfulness and death that awaits with that of God’s love and mercy that is waiting to transform us.
Remember, going to God for grace does something, but simply thinking of nothing but our weakness and demise does nothing but brings us down low. However, going to God for grace all of the time, when God calls us to serve Him is out of moderation too.
But most don’t tend to do this; most will seek to drown out our woes (to forget about our eternal doom if we don’t change) with the world. Then we fall even further away from God.
We must live for God’s will…striving for that, working to remove sin by seeking His help at all times, but not like I said out of moderation to where we are filled with despair or neglect our service to others.
Oh, the devil and his toiling to get us to focus our thoughts selfishly on ourselves, then we loose our purpose in life which is to know, serve and love God so God can bring us to salvation.
Trust in Him
This trust we need to have in God is what causes us weak, sinful souls, to pour out tears after tears on our bed as we cry ourselves to sleep begging God for mercy so we can amend our ways is good. But like I said, it can’t be done outside of moderation.
True trusting in God doesn’t keep us from praying, thinking all we be fine either, but trusting in God means we will persistently pour out great humble prayers (knowing our enormous sinfulness) to God begging for mercy (knowing He wants to save us)…understanding when He wills, how He wills, if we trust in Him, He will send assistance.
“I am wearied with sighing; all night long I drench my bed with tears; I soak my couch with weeping. My eyes are dimmed with sorrow [for my sins], worn out because of all my foes [all that causes me to sin].” (Psalm 6:7-8)
Remember, when God sends His assistance, don’t ignore it! He might not come knocking at our door with mercy again; we might have turned Him away for the last time.yet