1. Can you start again, if you don’t believe things can change?
I really believe that we can start afresh, even if we don’t think things can change. That’s because the truth is not what we think or feel, it’s outside of us and it’s a person: Jesus, who tells us who we are and what we’re really worth. He made us and He knows us: so He’s not fooled by our masks. But He still loves us and He says we are precious and worth giving His life for. Some days, truth to me feels like this: ‘I’m rubbish/a waste of space/ugly/useless/boring etcetcetc and life will never improve.’ But those feelings are lies. My friends tell me they sometimes feel like this too – but I can see how wrong they are from the outside, in a way they can’t from the inside.
2. What is ‘despair’? Are Christians really free from it?
Despair is not the same as depression. You can be depressed and still have hope. But despair is about closing down hope and refusing to believe that there’s any way forward or a truth beyond how we feel. Christians (or at least, me and the ones I know) are not free from it, in the sense that we still have to fight these lies. But we have a hope that is bigger than us and is grounded outside us in the cross and resurrection of Jesus. So that ultimate hope is what stops us from despair: even though some days it feels closer than others.
3. Is it just a case of ‘having more faith’?
The Christian life is a life of faith. But faith isn’t a substance or a thing. Faith is just what happens when you see Jesus for who He is. This is what we really need. Not a thing called “faith” to be running around our veins, but a fresh sight of Jesus in the Bible. When we see how awesome He is, we start to worship. When we see how radiant He is, we start to hope in Him. When we see how trustworthy He is, we start to trust Him. So yes, “having more faith” is the very stuff of the Christian life, but you’ll never have more faith by trying to have more faith. “Faith comes by hearing… the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)