Loss and despair--what is the difference?

I read in my quiet time this morning as Paul was imprisoned, how he prayed, hoped, pleaded and encouraged the people to stand strong and firm in their faith and to serve God, spreading the Good News with humility rather than pride. He asked them to examine their hearts, their motivation, as to their purpose....there should be no arrogance, no pride, no selfish reason for making their beliefs known to the world. Even in the midst of his imprisonment, he was not thinking at all about himself. I have considered this week where my life should go as a result of what I have experienced. I could allow myself to sink into despair, become overwhelmed with grief and loss and sit in it, wallow for as long as I want. What is the good in that though? So, I am left to ask, "God, what is your purpose for my life as a result of this experience?" "Why did you allow this to happen?" "What should I gain from it?" I am still wondering, and I am certain the answers won't come easily or quickly. I have not lost sight of the Savior, the One who will comfort and provide for me in ways that only He can. I have felt that already. But, I have also felt alone, hurt, disappointed, confused, and incomplete. I have found a certainty through this about some things, but others are still uncertain. God has a lot to teach me and I can't help feeling like this is leading me to what He has to show me through my mission experience in October. I don't understand His ways, but I know His ways are best, He knows best. I may not like it, but I love Him and will serve Him til the day I die. It is a strange thing, this need to serve a God who has so many unknowns, yet in my heart and soul what I do know is enough. I cannot explain it, nor can I justify it in human terms because it is beyond our understanding. Jeremiah 29:11 continues to be at the very core of my being, a solid foundation His word provides for me to stand on. I will go on, I cannot give up or give in because His purpose for my life, somewhat unknown at this point, pushes me forward with hope and determination.
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