The Bible describes each one of our lives as like a “journey”. We are “pilgrims” on a road of progress and purpose. Each of us is at different points along the “path of life”. Along the way, there are many different “seasons” we go through, many varied “circumstances” we navigate through, many different “decisions” we make that each have consequences and many “changes” we experience in the process (see Prov.4:18; 15:19, 24. Ps.119:105).
God desires for us to also encounter many “breakthroughs” along the way (turning points, strategic opportunities), which become “holy ground” moments during our journey. Many of these breakthrough moments come out of times of personal “desperation” where significant things occur in our lives that dramatically affect our future.
Jacob had a tremendous heritage and inheritance through his family. He knew God’s call and experienced God’s blessing on his life. Along the way, through various circumstances, God exposed character issues that Jacob needed to deal with. One night, when he was left “alone”, he wrestled with an angel all night. Jacob was desperate for God to bless him. Through this encounter with God, his name and character was changed (Gen.32:24-32). Although Jacob walked with a limp from that time on, life change, breakthrough and greater blessing were his.
So we see that one type of experience that God uses to shape a person’s life is in the area of frustration, dissatisfaction or even failure, which can lead to a strong sense of desperation. Out of desperation can come powerful life-change.
Possessing a “desperation factor” is a vital ingredient of growth and change. There has to be a huge sense of “want to”, “need to” or “must”. Without this strong desperation, you will not pay the price to change and live a life of greater discipline and purpose. An important principle in the personal journey of every believer is this: “What you tolerate, you will never change!” It is only when we refuse to tolerate something in our own lives (not “others”, where we often need to be patient and loving) that we raise our sense of desperation and push through the pain barrier to bring about change.
As we exercise our will, God’s power is then released into our situation. God “works in” us as we “work out” our salvation (Phil.2:12-13). It is “both/and” not “either/or”. Sometimes God initiates these times (like Jacob’s encounter), other times we do (Prodigal Son – Lk.15:11-32), most often it is a combination of both.
The Prodigal Son didn’t appreciate what he had in father’s house and he made a decision to take a path that looked more attractive and pleasurable. For a while, everything went fine but then he hit hard times and eventually, when at the bottom, he made a decision out of desperation to change the course of his life – to get back on the right path and get headed in the right direction. He refused to tolerate where he was and the life he was living.
Why wait until you hit bottom or the pain gets so bad that you have to change? Why not make the decisions that lead to life right now! Why not allow the Holy Spirit to tap into the power of desperation in your life today – right now!