"Despair Is Criminal"

Samuel Johnson (a literary giant of the 18th century) spent a lifetime fighting sloth and resolving to get up early in the morning to pray. These are entries from his diary and prayer journal--a  record through the years of Johnson’s life-long resolutions, failures, and frustrations:

1738: He wrote, “Oh Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.”
1757: (19 years later) “Oh mighty God, enable me to shake off sloth and redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin by diligent application of the days yet remaining.”
1759: (2 years later) “Enable me to shake off idleness and sloth.”
1761: “I have resolved until I have resolved that I am afraid to resolve again.”
1764: “My indolence since my last reception of the sacrament has sunk into grossest sluggishness. My purpose is from this time to avoid idleness and to rise early.”
1764: (5 months later) He resolves to rise early, “not later than 6 if I can.”
1765: “I purpose to rise at 8 because, though, I shall not rise early it will be much earlier than I now rise for I often lie until 2.”
1769: “I am not yet in a state to form any resolutions. I purpose and hope to rise early in the morning, by 8, and by degrees, at 6.”
1775: “When I look back upon resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after year, been made and broken, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal.” He resolves again to rise at 8.
1781: (3 years before his death) “I will not despair, help me, help me, oh my God.” He resolves to rise at 8 or sooner to avoid idleness.

 (Thanks to Tullian Tchividjian for including this in a recent post.)
You may find it strange that I find something incredibly encouraging about this,
but I do!

Looking back over 2012 and forward to the next 363 days, 
I say with Mr. Johnson, "I WILL not despair, help me, help me, oh my God!"
Despair IS criminal!
Hope springs eternal.
There is GREAT HOPE in the Lord!


  1. I found in this reading a man that was always crying out to his only Hope, and seeking to rise higher by calling on the One who lifts us higher than anyone ever could. I too have cried many times, "help me, help me, O God", as I too know that He is my only Hope! Thank you for sharing.

  2. I, too, find that encouraging, Rebecca! To know that others are always striving, always hoping. Sometimes it is tempting to just say "that is the way I am" and give up trying to improve. But thank God for those, like Samuel Johnson, who keep striving, year after year. May I be one of those.

    1. Exactly, Cheryl! You understand why I don't feel it depressing but inspiring :)

  3. My goodness, Mr. Johnson has been reading my thoughts! Smile, it is nice to have good company. I will try to do better.

  4. He was a great man. My fav. quote of his is: "A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out." A great quote at our house since RB hates them. There's very few things he doesn't like but I get all the cucumbers here or when we're out. I love them.

  5. That is convicting to me. Tullivan, he preached at our church on mother's day a year ago and God really touched my heart through him and his book about Jonah. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Even the saints of old struggled in their desire to live more intentionally! I find comfort in his prayers as well. Thanks for posting them.

  7. Oh how beautiful, I lovethe cucumber quote, as I too have cried out loud and prayed so hard my heart has acked! I always find HE hears me often, sometimes takes a little longer and finds different roads to get there, than the one we insist on choosing...but HE delivers..my SWEET LORD. Thank you for your post and thanks for your sweet and kind comment, lovely lady. I wish you and yours many blessings, happiness, and health for the new year.

  8. He is an inspiration....such a blessing that people kept journals for us to glean from .


Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)