Despair for the future would follow the destruction of Judah, when "the mighty man shall cry there bitterly," Zephaniah prophesied. (Zeph. 1:14.)
But despair is not limited to Old Testament times, for despair also has developed among many today, said Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve.To pierce gloomy moments, it is the gospel that gives a perspective with the light of joy and happiness, he taught in the April 1983 general conference.
"For many years now - in literature, film and music - we have witnessed increasing expressions of a profound sense of what has come to be called existential despair," he said. "The holocausts and the wars have taken their terrible toll of hope among 20th century man."
These assertions of despair can sometimes "assume an undeserved aura of truth," he warned. Elder Maxwell suggested, as a spiritual antidote, to compare assertions of despair with revealed doctrine.
To the notion that man lives unsponsored and alone in an accidental universe, the scriptures state, "God himself . . . formed the earth . . . created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited." (Isa. 45:18.)
While some say mankind is doomed for extinction, the scriptures teach, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. . . ." (Matt. 27:52.)
The sense of despair prevalent among some in the world is "further intensified by the demonstrated emptiness of materialism," said Elder Maxwell. Again, the gospel offers a perspective of history that offers hope, no matter how bleak the present may seem.
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant and John Hart
Sources: Charles Scribner's Sons Dictionary of the Bible, Bible Dictionary, and April 1983 general conference report.