To despair is to lose all hope, to be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat; hopelessness. Close synonyms include desperation, despondence, despondency, forlornness, and hopelessness.—Oxford English Dictionary

“Avoid getting bogged down in the swamp of despair others create with their intolerance and criticism.”—Edna Lister

You despair when you give in to the worldly thoughts and the fears that self nurtures, losing your contact with the pure Christ mind in the darkness you permit. Despair is both a soul taint and a sin.

Edna Lister on Despair

You can climb to any height without getting dizzy if you do not look behind. Once Light descends, you fall from the heights if you look back. The heights don’t make you dizzy, looking back does. Remember Lot’s wife: A backward glance turned her into a pillar of salt. When you look at what is old, the vibration of your life sparks lowers to the point of an unconscious void, that place of hopeless apathy. It is consciousness lowered to "I don’t care. I’ll never trust God again. You’ll have to show me."—Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

We must lift the whole world from the depths of despair and blackness into the splendid Light of a greater day.—Edna Lister, March 26, 1941.

The long-range view is the success view of life. When you cramp your view to fit today’s despair, you lose the incentive and the power to move forward into success.—Edna Lister, Your New Year, January 8, 1945.

When God is not in first place, you drop your lines of Light and sink into despair.—Edna Lister, To Seek the Light, June 10, 1951.

It is very difficult to overcome despair for unworthiness, for nothing is as corrosive as the grief of despair in having failed God.—Edna Lister, December 16, 1957.

You are ascending, as you lift your loved ones, from the depths of despair and darkness. Hold! You shall be great as the depths of your despair.—Edna Lister, May 11, 1959.

When you ascend during a high sacrifice of self, law gives you have a choice of the way you will go. First, you may choose to hold to the high point of contemplative receptivity, which is full illumination, despite anything. If you want credit for this saintly sacrifice of self—which is nothing more than to do your clear and only possible duty — or demand credit, you sink into the morass and quicksand of self-pity, frustration and that hopeless attitude of What’s the use? It isn’t my fault. They can’t blame me because…
  When you make such a high sacrifice, you are invited to step onto the pathway of the creator gods. To forget self is the Via Christa, the Path of Destiny. To deny destiny with even a tinge of self, you fall back into the abyss where you travel the path of fate.—Edna Lister, January 29, 1961.

Avoid getting bogged down in the swamp of despair others create with their intolerance and criticism.—Edna Lister, Know That God Takes Charge, June 11, 1961.

Faith comes from reconditioning your thinking from your grandparents’ old patterns. This causes a true transformation, for the little self no longer looks into the darkness of despair. You have found your higher soul and perfect identity.—Edna Lister, True Thought Forms Your Identity and Security, September 9, 1962.

Entice or urge others a bit higher in thought and words, in their present environment, not to force law or truth on them. Just gently lift them from their low sinking into despair and grief into praise and joy.—Edna Lister, October 15, 1963.

Selfishness always breeds despair and presents the bill for all debts from the past to be paid at once. When one has no exchange rate, the body must pay.—Edna Lister, May 22, 1967.

Man cannot criticize, hate, or despair when he is one with God.—Edna Lister, June 20, 1967.

Conquering is but a trick of holding, not letting your attitude drop to what’s the use?. The weariness and hopelessness come from having to pick up your attitude so often.—Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

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Treatment for Despair

With thinking held firmly to the new ideal-goal, with imagination and desire working together as teammates, the power of enthusiasm is born. Then soul easily entices imagination into building constructive pictures instead of the old blueprints of wavering depression and despair.—Edna Lister, Eternal Youth, 1956, 1976.

To a mountain of despair or darkness, you can say, Let there be Light! Light fills you! and the Love in the Light can absorb the darkness until the mountain disappears.—Edna Lister, Remove this Mountain, March 3, 1970.

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of despair: Middle English despeiren, from Old French desperer, from Latin desperare: de- "not" + sperare, "to hope."

Despair is a soul taint.

Despair is a sin.


God, whose law it is
that he who learns must suffer.
And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despite, against our will,
comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.—Aeschylus

Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.—William Blake

There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.—George Eliot

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.—C.S. Lewis

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.—C.S. Lewis


Blake, William. "The Clod and the Pebble," The Poetical Works of William Blake. John Sampson, editor. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1908.

Eliot, George. "Adam Bede," The Complete Works of George Eliot, Vol 2. New York: Harper Brothers, 1910, 90.

Hamilton, Edith. "Agamemnon," The Greek Way. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1930, 61 and 194.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Lewis, C. S. "We Have Cause to Be Uneasy," Mere Christianity, Book I, Part V. New York: Harper Collins, 1952.

Lewis, C. S. "The New Men," Mere Christianity, Book 4, final pararaph. New York: Harper Collins, 1952.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

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