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The Lost Virtue of Desperation

Updated: May 22, 2021

By John A. Carroll

In my early adult life, I was led to Christ and discipled by a group called the Navigators. Walt Henrichsen was one of the leaders who helped me grow in Christ. Walt had high standards for people whom he discipled. One day he was training us to evaluate someone who said he wanted to grow in the Lord.

Walt asked, “Is he desperate?”

I was puzzled by that question.

But I eventually understood that Walt was asking “How willing is he to forsake all and follow Christ? Is he motivated enough to be a faithful man who might someday be able to teach others?” (2 Tim. 2:2).

I still think about that question, “Is he desperate?” or for that matter “Am I desperate?”

In Psalm 42:1, we find the psalmist—a desperate man. He says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” In other words, he was saying “I cannot live without You, Lord. I am as desperate for You as I would be if I were dying of thirst or gasping for air.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). Again, here is a reference to being desperate like one who hungers and thirsts for what only God can give us—His righteousness—which is not our own but is from our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness (1 Co. 1:30).

In his book Before You Open Your Bible, Matt Smethurst says we must approach the Bible desperately. But how do we do that?

1. We become desperate for God and for His Word by avoiding all the “junk food” that kills our appetite for Him and the Scriptures. What do you do when bored, troubled, angry, afraid, or confused? Distractions and entertainment are only a click away on your smart phone or iPad. But you know that’s junk food, not spiritual nourishment. So, you choose real food—the life-giving, God-breathed Holy Bible. “Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts,” says the psalmist (Ps 119:173).

2. We also become desperate for God and for His Word by allowing the trials and suffering of this life to drive us to God’s Word. The psalmist said, “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually ‘where is your God?’” (Ps. 42:2). Again, the psalmist shows us the way “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).

Are you desperate? Do you come to the Scriptures--which is the very Word of the Eternal God--with a craving that nothing else in this world will satisfy? Have you become convinced that He is all you have or want in heaven or on earth?

Remember, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ born of His Spirit, you will never be closer to God in this life than when you draw near to Him through His Word like a deer panting for the flowing streams. Let us recover the lost virtue of desperation.

Tip of the week: Be desperate. If you are not, consider praying like this: Oh God, My Father, grow me in desperation for You and for Your Word so that nothing in this world can distract or seduce me from seeking you with my whole heart as long as I live.

Week 21 in the Word – May 21, 2021

Looking back

Last week we finished II Kings and started I Chronicles. The northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria. The Assyrians took the Israelites into captivity and resettled other populations into Samaria. Meanwhile, Judah experienced ups and downs with more bad kings than good. Hezekiah and Josiah were the notably good kings but even their influence was not enough to stem the judgment of God that came upon Jerusalem in the form of defeat and captivity by the Babylonians.

First and Second Chronicles repeats the history of Israel and Judah from a slightly different angle than the books of Samuel and Kings. There is a focus on the kingdom of Judah and the Davidic line through which the Messiah would come. It is easy to appreciate this emphasis as we know that Jesus Christ is the One who sits forever on the throne of David.

You saw that the first chapters of I Chronicles are lengthy genealogies and make for slow and tedious reading. Did you try reading them while listening to the audio version of the passages on here ? I hope you found last week’s tip of the week helpful.

We read John 5-7 where Jesus healed a paralytic man by the pool of Bethesda and experienced more conflict with the Jewish authorities. Jesus revealed more about His claim to deity and that He was the One who will judge all the earth on the resurrection day. After feeding 5000 people Jesus presents Himself as the Bread of Life, the One who gives eternal life to those who feed upon His body and blood. In shock some former disciples stop following Him.

Looking ahead

This week we will continue in I Chronicles (chapters 3-22). In chapter 10 the text transitions from genealogies into narrative with the death of Saul and his sons. Chapters 11-22 relate the account of David’s reign, his organization, and his victories. Chapter 17 tells us about God’s covenant with David—how God would not let David build Him a temple but rather God would build David a “house” that would last forever. We know that Jesus Christ would fulfill that covenant as the true eternal king over God’s people in all the earth.

In John we will be reading chapters 8-10. Jesus shows mercy and grace to a woman caught in adultery and presents Himself as “the light of the world.” The Lord gives warnings to the unbelieving Jews that they must believe in Him if they would escape judgment for their sins and be set free from the devil who is their real father—the father of lies. In John 9 Jesus heals a blind man who then endures pressure and scrutiny by the Pharisees before discovering who Jesus is and falling before Him in worship.

In John 10, Jesus presents Himself as the Good Shepherd. He explains why some will not listen to Him nor follow Him. One of the great verses of assurance in all the Bible can be found in John 10:27-29. Have a great week in the word.

Week of May 21-27, 2021

May 21/Day 141 Light or Darkness—Which Will You Choose? (I Chronicles 3-5; John 8:1-20) Audio here. May 22/Day 142 None So Blind (I Chronicles 6-7; John 8:21-36) Audio here. May 23/Day 143 The Consequences of Not Hearing (I Chronicles 8-10; John 8:37-59) Audio here. May 24/Day 144 Free To Lead Like Jesus (I Chronicles 11-13; John 9:1-23) Audio here. May 25/Day 145 No Drama; Simple Trust (I Chronicles14-16; John 9:24-41) Audio here. May 26/Day 146 A Different Kind of Shepherd (I Chronicles 17-19; John 10:1-21) Audio here. May 27/Day 147 Why We Must Stay with God’s Word (I Chronicles 20-22; John 10:22-42) Audio here. If you do not have a copy of my book you may want to order one here.

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