The way out of despair …

Designer Si Chan is introducing an unusual jacket in his winter men’s wear collection. It’s a big, puffy green parka with four setsparka of stuffed, clasped hands which wrap around from back to front (as shown in the photo to the right).

“Everybody needs love, don’t they?” asks Si Chan on his blog. Chan says he designed his eccentric kelly green puffer jacket to make the wearer feel “warm and hugged.”

Some might call his design cuddly; some might just call it creepy. No matter what you call it, it is doubtful this cold-weather creation will fulfill Chan’s goal of helping others “depart from loneliness.”

It takes more than an odd, warm coat to lift us out of despair.

Despair is such a mentally and emotionally deep pit that most of us have found ourselves in at some time in our lives. It’s a terrible experience and one that’s tough to get out of. You feel like you’re drowning under the weight of the world, and just like a person drowning in water, no one may notice. Many people don’t even know what a person in despair looks like, just as we often don’t spot a person who is drowning in water. Darren Chester tells the following story …

    I recently viewed a videotape used to train lifeguards on how to recognize when someone is drowning. We often think that a person who is drowning will thrash about in the water and yell, “Help! Help! I’m drowning!” In reality, they become almost paralyzed by fear and incapable of calling for help.

    The video illustrated how this works. It showed a young girl of about 10 sitting on an inner tube float in the deep end of a wave pool, surrounded by children and a few adults. When the girl adjusted herself on the tube, she fell off and slipped to the bottom of the pool where the water was right at the top of her head.

    There was no thrashing about and there was no yelling for help. Instead, subtly, her hands came just above the surface as if she were reaching for something. Thankfully, a lifeguard spotted her and within a few seconds had a flotation device under her. The most remarkable thing was that the people around her were oblivious to the fact that she was drowning.

People suffering despair often become paralyzed with fear and unable to cry out for help. Because of that, the people around them may not notice they are drowning emotionally.

But God sees you!

The Apostle Paul tells of a time when he personally experienced deep, dark despair …

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die …” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a.

Paul’s situation was real and left him despairing for his life. How did he make his way out of such a deep, dark pit?

“… But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead,” 2 Corinthians 1:9b.

God sees your need, He understands what you’re feeling, and is fully acquainted with your circumstances. When you’re done relying on yourself to find a way out of what causes you to despair, and instead learn to rely on Him, then He will deliver you from the pit you find yourself in.

“And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us,” 2 Corinthians 1:10.

If you currently find yourself in despair, I implore you to turn from trying to rely on yourself and instead to rely on God to deliver you out of the darkness you’re experiencing. He is willing and able to rescue you!

If you’re not personally experiencing despair, let me tell you there likely are people around you who are, people who feel like they are drowning in life. Even if they aren’t thrashing about for help, you can learn to see their need by not being self-absorbed but noticing the people around you …

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too,” Philippians 2:4.

We all need more than a warm coat with “hugging hands,” we need one another offering helping hands. Most of all, we need the nail-scarred hands of a Savior to deliver us from the depths of despair into His marvelous light.