Mark Affleck

I Had a Mansion, But Was Drowning in Despair

June 1, 2017
Spiritual Growth

It’s true. And it was scary.
It happened during my run as a Corporate CEO when I was swept away by hopelessness. I had accepted Christ 20 years earlier, but never fully surrendered my life in obedience to him. There was a sports car in my mansion’s garage, but I was spiritually bankrupt.
It was the perfect storm for despair–no joy…constant pain…unrelenting anxiety—and it pummeled me like a runaway truck.
This funk lasted for many years, but my once-moribund faith walk started to come alive after attending the spiritual maturity class at Saddleback Church. My despair and hopelessness followed me into the class, of course, but God turned that pain into a silent ghost and used Pastor Tom Holladay to jump-start my spiritual transformation.
Step by step, I began to trust God more and more. One of the most important steps was identifying the attitudes that had engulfed me with hopelessness. Why I was bitter and angry. Moody and judgmental. Sullen and withdrawn.
My next wave of prayer and processing revealed that those cancerous attitudes were responsible for catapulting me into a “Despair Cycle.” It was a ride that did not have an off switch. Each revolution moved me a little further away from God and tightened the torture, escalated the pain. But none of mattered because, it turns out, God was setting the stage for my story to turn in a new direction.
The turning point came when God started using my commitment to spend time in his Word every day as the delivery system for his perspective. His answers. His hope.
And it “took.”
My spiritual growth erupted. My faith was propelled to a new level by this newly-minted catalyst: Perfection is a MYTH and life is improvisational jazz, not orchestral splendor.
Blowing up the perfection myth was a critical step in overcoming my automatic default to “get rid” of feelings of despair or hopelessness. God showed me that a more productive approach was considering WHY those feelings were there and WHERE they are coming from.
I asked God for the strength to seek him quickly when my body was flushed with feelings of despair and hopelessness. And I did my part by spending time with him and in his Word every day preparing to quell the storms of despair before they unleashed their full fury.
I learned from this part of the story that quelling those storms is not easy by any measure. It requires grounding in God’s Word and prayer, prayer, and more prayer.
“All things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
“He changed my sadness into joy.”  Psalms 30:11
“For our life is of FAITH, not sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“The Lord is a strong tower where the righteous go for safety.” Proverbs 18:10
We do not have to drown in despair and God promises to help us through that fog at any stage.

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