Following Jesus Through the Storm: Defeating Despair, by ShepherdFarmerGeek

Just yesterday I read of someone comparing our situation to following a guide and dim lantern in the dark. (Unfortunately I’ve lost the source link.)

Two Components

There are two basic components upon which we will expound. These follow:

  1. Confidence in the Guide. This confidence involves believing that He knows us, knows the dangers, and knows the way through. Further, it is believing that He has the power to protect us against what is in the dark.
  2. Overcoming our fear of the dark and what it conceals. We don’t know what lurks in the dark. We can’t control what’s in the dark, and we can’t foresee what dangers lie ahead on the path the Guide is taking us.

Stay Close

All we are asked to do is stay close to the Guide. How hard is that?

I think it’s important to remember the distinction between what bad people intend to do, or are planning to accomplish, and what God is going to actually allow them to do. I don’t doubt Satan has some diabolical master plan (well, by definition…), or that occultists would love to see certain things happen, but God’s going to keep things within his parameters. I have more faith in his Providence than in the evil machinations of either demons or people.

Define the Goal

Following Jesus through the storm is no guarantee that you will “win,” that you will be comfortable and well-fed, and that you will keep all your wealth and possessions intact. We need to define the goal. The goal is not to die with the most toys. The goal isn’t even, exactly, surviving. Everyone dies. You’re going to die, should Jesus tarry, one way or another.

Despair

“Despair is a mental state which exaggerates not only our misery but also our weakness.” Marquis de Vauvenargues 1715-1747, French Militarist, Moralist

“People who have all the toys and piles of preps but who fail to invest in their own spiritual life can still fail, through a failure of will, through a failure of courage and morals, and through a failure to discern the path of God ahead.” – ShepherdFarmerGeek

Despair can only happen when we take our eyes off God.

We don’t know what we don’t know. We are ignorant even of the true extent of our ignorance. To allow despair to take root means we think we know enough to know there is no hope. Well, that’s kind of arrogant.

“Despair is for people who know, beyond any doubt, what the future is going to bring. Nobody is in that position. So despair is not only a kind of sin, theologically, but also a simple mistake, because nobody actually knows. In that sense there is always hope.” – Patrick Curry

Be Smart About Your Ignorance

Consider this, which states, “…we have to work to incorporate an understanding of our near-total ignorance into good decisions.”

Now read that again and think about it…

“…humility in the face of our individual massive ignorance dictates caution and small steps, inexpensive exploration of possibly-good futures?”

His Offer

But our ignorance is, truly massive, and our ability to see into the future even one minute is hazy at best, much less one week or one month or year. We don’t have all the facts that could be had, and we don’t know the future. But the next best thing is we know the One who knows all that could be known and knows the future out as far as we could want.

His offer is not to transfer all of that information to us so we can decide. His offer is to give us general guidelines to follow for now, and to give us directions and corrections as needed, as we’re going forward. It’s a good offer, and we’d be crazy not to take him up on it. Hey, we’d be arrogant numbskulls not to take him up on it.

How?

I’ve heard words in my head (even “speaking” over my own thoughts at the moment), and have seen some amazing and highly unlikely things (and of course, Biblical signs in the heavens). I’ve been given specific dreams and been directed to amazingly specific Bible passages in response to questions or problems. And God has been providing for my wife and me with our finances in completely unexpected ways.

His providence has been like stepping stones. I step to one and wait, and just before I get pushed off that stone the next one pops up. They’re leading me in a certain direction. This is something I have not seen addressed in prepper circles.

God Still Leads His People

God still leads his people. This is a critical, vital, irreplaceable “skill”. However, it requires that we have ears to hear and eyes to see, and faith to step out and do what we’re convinced God has led us to do. (A few examples in Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 2:19, or do an online Bible search for “dreams” or “angels.”)

God Still Speaks

God still speaks. He doesn’t always give us an answer, but he does always give us something even better: Himself. If he spoke to you in some way would you even be willing to do it? Be willing to follow God when he does give you guidance!

Get Up!

If you lose the trail, go back to where you last knew you were on track. Don’t let sin or failure sidetrack you! Get up and move on.

“Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Ps.37:24, NKJV). “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.” (Prov.24:16 NKJV)

“…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” II Peter 1:5-9 NKJV)

Don’t Waste Your Sorrows

Don’t Waste Your Sorrows is a phrase from the title of the excellent book by Paul Billheimer.

A Potential Time of Transformation

The dark time ahead is an opportunity to reexamine, reorient, and reassess. It’s a potential time of transformation, not punishment!

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

Improvise, adapt, and overcome, yet how do we apply this to despair? And why don’t we? It’s because despair is surrender, giving up, and not even trying. And why do we give up? We give up because we have faith in the power of what opposes us, what attacks us. And that is because our faith, our confidence in God, has been shaken.

Every Opponent Has a Flaw

Every system, every opponent, has a flaw. You may not know what it is, but God does! Have faith, brothers and sisters! But be sure you’re holding on to what God showed you and not something else.

Encouragement

“We are never defeated unless we give up on God.” – Ronald Reagan

“Never doubt in the DARK what God told you in the LIGHT.” – Raymond Edman

““With Jesus, even in our darkest hour, the best remains, and the very best is yet to be.” – Corrie ten Boom

“…never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” – Winston Churchill

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet go out to meet it, nonetheless.” – Thucydides, 430 B.C.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – G. K. Chesterton

The True Secret

Just as the true secret of patience is finding something else to do in the meantime, the true secret of hope is taking our eyes off the problem and looking toward the Solution. We just never know what God can do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced or read about “hopeless” situations that went from disaster to resolution with a single event. God can turn it all around. In fact, He’s promised to do just that.

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” ….” – Revelation 21:3-5

Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 79 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
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Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
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Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




17 Comments

    1. Amen. KJV is The Preserved Word of God. Refined in a furnace of earth 7 times as silver. Do we believe God? His Word will endure forever. All others are leavened and a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. The Book of Life.

  1. uplifting read , very applicable to todays news.
    always Believe.

    Yesterdays Dreams , are Todays hopes and Tomorrows realities.

    That last line is truth.

    “Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both”

  2. Thank you, for those words of encouragement.
    I cannot write anywhere near that good.
    Yet, I take heart when I read that GOOD of which
    you speak. Hope is lost, just as anyone is,
    outside the will of God. Especially liked the quote
    referring to the one who falls and gets
    back up seven (7) times compared to the person
    who (sins) and stays down in it.

  3. Your article was meant for me! I have despaired and prayed about a particular situation and this article is serving as my first stepping stone! Many thanks, ShepherdFarmerGeek!

      1. Thank you, again, SFG; I appreciate the offer! Your article was the encouragement that I needed. I have taken my petitions to the Lord and He clearly answered my prayers through your words. My best regards to you and the Shepherdess.

  4. How to get to Heaven ? Simply admit to Jesus that you are a sinner, and accept His forgiveness. Jesus has completed the bridge and paid the toll with His BLOOD. Doesn’t matter WHO you are.
    Doesn’t matter WHAT you have done. Now you are saved, so START OVER ANEW. God now sees you as WHITE AS SNOW. Congratulations ! I will see you in Heaven !

  5. I’m just putting down thoughts about nothing at all. I born and raised catholic, 7 yrs of catholic grade school and 6 nuns and 2 priests. and according to the nuns and priests, I and my parents weren’t very good catholics. Mom tangled too many times with a couple of nuns at school about me not getting enough help when I needed it. Yrs later, my mom passed because of cancer, then my daughter passed unexpectly, then my Dad passed, and then my wife got terminal brain cancer and passed last yr. Every one tells me that there is God and that he is all grateful and caring, really. Is he really all caring? If he is, why does allow all sorts of diseases and sickness to happen? why does he allow all the killings though out the ages, man’s inhumanity to his fellow man? Why? I go to church on a regular basis, but I know that I’m just going though the motions. I’ve been told that God is always testing us, well if that is the case then I guess I’ve failed all the testing. They say that ” the world will come to an end as we know it “, well, mine came to an end on 9 july 17 at 9 pm. 48 yrs, 2 months, 6 days. and 8 hrs and that doesn’t included 2 yrs of dating before we were married. People have told me to get consuling, I’ve been to 3 group sessions

    1. It’s really sad to read about all the painful experiences you have been through. It’s a heavy load you have had to bear. I had a near death experience during emergency surgery in the 1980s, the surgeon confirmed I flat-lined; “We nearly lost you”. The experience of “dying” was a real eye opener; “I” was still very aware and alive, and was conveyed to a place of unspeakable beauty and comforting peace. It was HOME. This world is not our home, that’s why we search and seek and never feel satisfied, it’s a kind of homesickness. It’s hard to understand why things happen to us in this plane of existence, but EVERYTHING made sense in heaven.

      I believe in eternal life in the presence of a living, loving God, because I was fortunate enough to experience it. My grandmother met me at my arrival, hugging me and saying “Darling, how are you here? You must go back, it’s not your time yet. You have many things to accomplish, many to help, you must go back. I will be here when you come again at last.” I protested I wanted to stay but found myself waking up in the recovery room at the hospital. I have feared neither life nor death since that day. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was.

      I hope my story will lighten your load a little. “The best is yet to come.”

  6. ShepherdFarmerGeek- you said……

    ” I’ve heard words in my head (even “speaking” over my own thoughts at the moment), and have seen some amazing and highly unlikely things (and of course, Biblical signs in the heavens). I’ve been given specific dreams and been directed to amazingly specific Bible passages in response to questions or problems. And God has been providing for my wife and me with our finances in completely unexpected ways.”

    My short story is…….end of 2015 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, I can tell you or anyone it was a shock and very emotional, I did not want to die, at a young 57, I started seeing and hearing a voice in my head, I heard the words clearly while lying in that hospital bed waiting for the biopsy results ” choose life”…….” choose life “……..”choose life “, so when I got home later I googled the words in the bible that said to choose life, and one verse stood out,

    Deut 30:19

    “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. So choose life, so that you and your descendants may live ”

    I can tell you my hands were shaking, I printed out the verse and stuck it in big print over my bedroom wall, I recited it, when I was going through chemo I nearly died from chemo poisoning, while in the critical ward near death, I heard again choose life, while my body was dying, I understood God was giving me the choice to give up or live, so I chose life, I still do that today, I have little, I do not go to a church at the moment ( I could not go to a prosperity preaching Pentecosal anymore due to the lack of real biblical preaching ), but I have peace living each day, all I know is God himself sometimes speaks to me, I do not know my earthly future and I am extremely grateful for being alive and being able to still walk in the forests and camp under the night sky and look up know, my time is not up yet, I know whence I go when I die.

    God somehow provides for me and my wife, we are not well off, yet we get by.

    Peace

  7. Dear Anonymous,
    I am sorry for your loss, although many of us experience loss, it is hard to understand why things happen and why things don’t happen. Keep returning to church, search out a priest or pastor you are comfortable with and talk to them, explain how you feel. Often, we don’t understand or comprehend what or why God allows things. Isaiah 55:8-9 ‘For your thoughts are not my thoughts and your ways are not my ways, says the Lord”. Remember, keep the faith and keep persevering; even Mother Theresa had doubts that she was making a difference and serving the Lord. You don’t know what purpose the Lord has for you, once you commit to Him, you may influence someone else and save others. Keep the faith!

  8. Dear Anonymous:
    Sometimes having everything stripped away from you is a type of cleansing. It’s a spiritual cleansing. Especially death of loved ones. For some , it’s all of their money and material possessions. It’s a forced re-boot of your perception of your life and what is truly valuable. I’ve been there. It gets down to the core of who you are, and very much how you respond (rise up) to that trauma you have experienced. There is a certain freedom and joy in spiritual and material cleansing. The “Book of Job” used to really depress me, and I struggled to understand the “why?” of it. But we cannot judge the infinity of God, or the reasoning behind events….just allow yourself to be drawn even deeper into Faith. Find strength there. Serve others unselfishly, and de-focus on the pain of your past, which will allow you to see a new future.

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