What is the most encouraging word in the English language? I can only think of one word for it: hope. I can’t think of another word that brings me the same excitement, strength, and determination, but the actual word I have in mind is related: “respair.” It’s equally as encouraging.
As far as we can tell it was first used by Andrew of Wyntoun, a Scottish poet who lived c. 1350. It’s a brilliant word coined from Latin roots meaning “again” and “hope.” and I think it will probably press its way to find its way into your vocabulary, conversation and prayers as you consider it more.
Respair: what’s so great about it? In a time when things are so dire in so many areas in the lives of so many people, there is a desperate cry that may be the first sign of a new spiritual awakening.
You find it in that moment of intimacy with God where you have received forgiveness for confessed sin, and suddenly a weight is lifted
Happily, the antidote is found in ‘respair’ and is life-changing when seen within the scope of scripture and between its lines. As a word by itself, it is meaningless unless it is experienced. That’s where the absolutely good news arrives.
You may have experienced respair before. As a Christian you find it in that moment of intimacy with God where you have received forgiveness for confessed sin, and suddenly a weight is lifted and it feels spiritually like all the lights are switched back on. We celebrate this encounter in the ordinary life of the Body of Christ internationally as we learn to live and move in him, and to resist hiding like Adam, running toward God instead of away from Him.
We need that ‘againhope’ in our lives.
King David doesn’t use the word ‘respair’ but you can hear it in his heart as he tenderly reaches out to God with the plea.
Zechariah alludes to something similar. God will come to the help of the prisoners of hope; those who hold on to hope and are resolute:
“As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” Zechariah 9:12 ESV
King David doesn’t use the word ‘respair’ but you can hear it in his heart as he tenderly reaches out to God with the plea:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Ps 51:10
It’s there… that ‘againhope’. When you know what God is like it is easy to see where the fount of hope is. Everything is settled at the Cross. Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates the veracity and extent of his love for us. He is the difference. He is ‘respair’ personified. No matter how bad things are, God is never far away, and always wanting to be found:
“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” Micah 7:18
As we go through hardships of life whether we are facing the savage war in Ukraine, the covid pandemic, extortionate fuel costs, cruel costs of living increases or crushing health problems and that monster called death, one thing is certain, the Lord is there. Respair lifts the heart, brings a lightness of spirit.
Respair is a one-word promise from God for you. You can hope again, more than that, God has initiated it. Think about the word for a few days and let it fuel your heart with fresh hope, courage and conviction.
Rom 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Proverbs 23:18 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Ps 62:5-6 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”