6144. Because the famine grew strong upon them. That this signifies because there was desolation even to despair, is evident from the signification of "famine," as being desolation in respect to those things which are of the church (n. 5415, 5576); and when the famine is said "to grow strong," it denotes despair (n. 5279), for the last of desolation is despair. There are many reasons why despair is the last of desolation and of temptation (see n. 5279, 5280), of which only these following may be adduced. Despair causes those who feel it to acknowledge in an effectual and feeling manner that there is nothing of truth and good from themselves, and that from themselves they are condemned; but that they are delivered from condemnation by the Lord; and that salvation flows in by means of truth and good. Despair also causes them to feel the happiness of life which is from the Lord; for when they come out of that state, they are like those who have been condemned to death, and are set free from prison. Moreover by means of desolations and temptations, states contrary to heavenly life are felt, the result of which is the implantation of a sense and perception of the satisfaction and happiness of heavenly life; for a sense and perception of what is satisfying and happy is impossible without comparison with the opposites. To the end therefore that full comparisons may be made, desolations and temptations are brought to their utmost, that is, to despair.