CHAPTER 24

“I Was Desperate.”

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It's a common belief that if you do the crime, you should do the time.  And why not? If you have made the decision to commit a crime — no matter what that crime is — then you should be punished for the pain, suffering, and financial loss you have caused victims and their families.  But there is a disproportionate number of crimes being committed today by single mothers recently. These women are resorting to crime just to provide basic needs for their family, and crimes of this type are now being referred to as "crimes of desperation.”

As the slumping economy has taken its toll on people's lives, police departments all across the country are reporting a jump in crimes of desperation including robberies, burglaries, car thefts and shoplifting.  They’re seeing homeless transients who are sleeping on park benches, hungry, and cold trying to get arrested - simply as a way to come in out of the cold and get a few free meals.  They’re seeing an increase in “white collar” crime by people with relatively easy access to enormous amounts of money, who feel compelled to embezzle funds to clear up a pressing financial obligation.

Another common scenario is the drug addict who is in desperate need of money for his next fix.  He decides the quickest way to get money is to hold up a convenience store.  As he’s demanding cash from the check-out clerk, a customer confronts him and, feeling threatened, he shoots the customer impulsively.

We’ve all seen TV shows where a compulsive gambler owes a large amount of money to some organized crime organization.  He’s been warned that he better pay off the ever-growing loan or get his knees broken. So he kills his wife or burns down his own house for the insurance money.

These are sobering times that we live in today.  Many people have lost their jobs and can’t find another one.  Others are underemployed and are just barely making it.  The unemployment rate is soaring, the stock market is highly volatile, and famine is spreading worldwide. People who commit crimes of desperation are in crisis mode.  They feel they have run out of options. They commit crimes to resolve what seems to be an unresolvable predicament. 

The spiritual issue with committing a crime in a desperate situation is that we are taking matters into our own hands, instead of trusting God to bring us through.

1. What can we do when our backs are against the wall and there is nowhere to turn? 
  a) God's desire is that we ... (Psalm 50:15)
   
  b) Because He loves us, when we call on God He will ... (Psalm 91:14-16)
   
  c) 1 Peter 5:7 says that when we are anxious we should
   

2. Some find it difficult to trust God when everything seems to be caving in around them.  How do the following verses reassure us?
  a) Isaiah 41:13:
   
  b) Proverbs 3:5-6:
   
  c) Romans 8:31:
   

3. Because we have a High Priest who is both omnipotent and compassionate, what attitude should we have when we come before His throne with a desperate request? (Hebrews 4:16)
 

4. The Bible has recorded seven separate occasions when Saul attempted to kill   David (1 Sam. 18:11; 1 Sam. 18:25; 1 Sam. 19:9-10; 1 Sam. 19:11, 15; 1 Sam. 20:31-33; 1 Sam. 23:9; 1 Sam. 23:25-26).  This was surely a desperate situation for David. 

David had at least two opportunities to kill King Saul, recorded in 1 Samuel 24 and 1 Samuel 26, yet both times, David refused to kill Saul himself and David refused to allow his warriors to kill King Saul.  Why did he refuse to commit this crime of desperation?

  a) 1 Samuel 24:6
   
  b) 1 Samuel 26:9
   

5. People often approached Jesus in desperation, asking for His help. Give an example and how He responded. 
 

6. If a single mother shoplifts school supplies and school clothes for her children, should she receive a lighter sentence than someone who shoplifts for the thrill?  (Thought question – answers will vary.)
 

7. How would you counsel a person who is considering committing a crime, because he is in a real desperate situation?
 

8. Finally, in conclusion, is there any reasonable excuse we can offer God that will justify our committing a crime?  answer.
 
  Explain your answer.
 
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