At Wit’s End

God - wits end on cardI saw an online advertisement for a set of nicely-embossed cards, and the curved edging caught my attention.  Each cover read, God is everywhere, even at your wit’s end.

Pretty simple statement, clearly intended to bring a smile.

Even as I chuckled and moved on to another website, the statement hung in the back of my mind.  Then I found myself actually thinking about the statement…and I realized those eight words were actually somewhat profound.

Even at your wit’s end.   That’s often where we least expect to find God.

The online resource states, “If you are at your wits’ end, you are emphasizing that you are so worried or exhausted by problems or difficulties that you do not know what to do next.”  I wish I were less familiar with that state of mind.  Career directions that unexpectedly fizzled.  Family relationships that remained unreconciled.  Financial resources that were expected and never materialized.  Prayer for physical healing which have not yet materialized.  Situations in which it is difficult to discern the best path out of the valley and onto the heights.  Valleys where the “shadow of death”, as the Psalmist writes, lie long and dark across our paths.

Yet it seems to me that every God-seeker has wandered onto the streets of that neighborhood at some time in their lives.  Luke records that Peter found himself there while he warmed himself by the fire as Jesus faced the first of His mock trials.  Joseph was unexpectedly plunged onto the block when his betrothed, Mary, “before they came together …was found to be with child.”  (Matt 1:18)

John the Baptist sat on the Wits End Corner while, imprisoned by Herod, “sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?'” (Matt. 11:2-3)  Mary Magdalene, weeping throughout the depths her soul, stared disbelievingly as Jesus suffered on the cross.   The disciple Thomas, when told by his companions that they had seen the risen Jesus, responded “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

Unbelief.  A brutal invasion of doubt.  Fear’s thick cloud of confusion.  Stumped.

But Jesus is unfathomable in His love and depth of compassion.  “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)  The Message expands the passage by stating, “We don’t have a high priest who is out of touch with our reality.  He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all–all but the sin.  So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give.  Take the mercy, accept the help.”

We may not recognize His hand stretched out through the fog of our circumstances.  Yet we are encouraged, “His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark” (Psa. 91:4); “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (I Thess. 5:24); “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3); “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:23).

After His Resurrection, Jesus reassured Peter of His love and faith in him by meeting with him personally, privately, likely embracing Peter as he wept with both sorrow and joy.

Jesus sent messengers to tell John, “What you have seen and heard:  the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Luke 7:22)  God answered John with words of encouragement and hope that would strengthen and reassure him.

To Joseph, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to take Mary as your wife; for the Child that has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matt. 1:20-21)  The tender Father responded to Joseph with words of reassurance, explanation, and vision for the future.

Jesus opened Mary Magdalene’s eyes to a revelation of His Identity as He stood before her by the empty tomb, and after eight days, Jesus reappeared to His disciples and spoke directly to Thomas:  “Reach here with your finger and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27, NASB)

He calls to us with the same words:  do not be unbelieving, but believing.  The Living Bible translates that phrase, “Don’t be faithless any longer.  Believe.

He shares our life’s travels and daily encourages us to cast all our anxiety on Him as we strengthen ourselves in the knowledge “He cares for you.” (I Pet. 5:7)   Anxiety.  That point of being at wit’s end.

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