It is easy for the tentacles of despair to strangle our souls. It was such tentacles that William Shakespeare had in mind when he penned his poem, "Fear No More:"
Fear no more the lightening-flash
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-storm;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
On the night of the Lord’s impending departure, despair was in the air.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace,” Jesus told his disciples in the Upper Room. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Have peace. Take heart. In the world. Amid tribulation. Don’t fear or despair. Why? Because Christ has overcome the world.
In the Garden, he let anguished drops of blood fall to the ground. He endured betrayal, arrest, and desertion. Before the Sanhedrin, he withstood mockery and slaps in the face from those who ought to have worshiped him. He was silent before the self-indulgent foolishness of Herod Antipas. Before Pilate, he allowed the unjust sentence of death to remain. With the Roman soldiers, he absorbed the crown of thorns, the whipping, the loss of his clothing. On the Cross he endured exposure before the vulgar masses, the agony of nails through his wrists and feet, the torture of asphyxiation, the catcalls. In his soul he experienced the shock of his Father’s withdrawal and wrath.
That doesn’t seem like the sort of triumph that will enable us to take heart, but it is. Christ died, paying the penalty for our sins, and was raised three days later, demonstrating our forgiveness with God. The stone that was rolled away from the tomb has become the entrance to a new life for believers, a journey in which the forces of fear and despair can never have the last word.
No wonder, then, that the message entrusted to the Church is called gospel—literally, good news.
Its proclamation is a joyful task, but it can be a difficult one. The same forces that drive our neighbors to despair, seek to block our efforts at sharing this good news.
That’s why the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College exists. With over fifty ministries and a worldwide reach, we seek to accelerate the church’s calling to engage in global evangelism.
The BGC aims to provide every believer with the needed tools and knowledge to make Jesus Christ known until he returns. To fulfill this goal, we equip, inspire, and guide Christian leaders, churches, and organizations to fulfill their evangelism calling. And in so doing, we help drive despair from the lives of men, women, boys, and girls the world over.
Things may seem to be falling apart; thunder storms continue to threaten. Yet because Christ has overcome, we can take heart. We can also take his good news to the ends of the earth with confidence, knowing that despair can never have the last word.