15Nov, 2012

Day 5: Divine Despair

  • I Am Second

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Day 5  by Jon Cook

“The Creator, the infinite and eternal being, feels misery at our wickedness” –Live Second, 6.

Divine Despair…

When I read through this story of Noah in Genesis 6, I asked myself: why was God so harsh in his decision to flood the earth? I read the title of this selection “Divine Despair” and at first I couldn’t see how despair could be the driving force of God’s decision to flood the earth.

So, that made me wonder… what is despair? It’s a loss of hope; it’s the last heave of strength, the “why not,” the half-hearted, one in a million chance you take, just praying for something, anything to happen. Despair is a hopelessness that’s deep and rooted and hard to remove because all the other options seem to be off the table. Despair can drive you to do something you’d never do otherwise, even something drastic.

What drives despair? Lots of things can make someone desperate. Love that’s been lost can drive despair. The aching and the longing to have that love again can drive someone, even the God of the universe to do something drastic. It was despair to capture the attention of mankind again that drove God to flood the earth and start all over.

When God saw the wickedness of the world Noah lived in, there was despair. In the story it says that God regretted that He’d even made mankind. I can almost picture the weight of regret in the heart of God. And that’s when He threw in the towel. There’s a huge sacrifice that sometimes accommodates despair and the flood was God’s way of saying, “That’s it.”

The hard part is that honestly, I don’t really think of divine despair when I look at my own life. What have I ever done that would drive God to do something drastic out of desperate love for me? My everyday brokenness, this infection in me called sin has a moving effect on the heart of God. It troubles Him and offends Him at the very core of who He is. For all of the good that God has made me capable of doing, why do I do what I do? In my brokenness, I can bring divine despair.

My brokenness doesn’t just affect God. It has a ripple effect on my relationship with my wife, my co-workers, my neighbors, my friends, my family, and each person who crosses my path each day. The early roots of despair start to dig in when I let my brokenness erode everyday conversations and I overlook conflict and pride and selfishness and a sense of entitlement in me.

If brokenness brings despair to God and those around us, then what would be its cure?


Hope is what was on God’s mind when He shut Noah in the ark. It was hope that sent Jesus to die on the cross. Hope is a beautiful contrast to the brokenness around me. Hope is what causes me to see what could be instead of just what is. Hope drives us to do something when despair would just as soon make us quit.

Living second in contrast to divine despair is by bringing hope. Living second today is looking for what God can do through you. Living second is about putting God and others before you in hope of what they can do. I can live second by bringing hope today.

Check out Jon Cook’s regular blog at writetojoncook.me where he writes about ministry, leadership, creativity, and the Church in culture. Tell Jon what you think below.

 Next for the 60-Days-of-Second:

Day 6- “Reset” by Jon cook