At Wits End

“They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses.” (Psalm 107:26-28)

In this passage the Psalmist is relating to a time when he was on the sea and a storm came up. It is a Psalm written by King David and particularly loved by mariners because of its reference to perils on the open sea and that God can be trusted to lead them through their trials. No matter who we are, what we are or where we are there will be times of trials and tribulations in our life. No one is exempt as this is the way of the world we are now presently in. It has always been since the fall in the Garden and always will be till the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A Pastor once told me back in the days of my youth that in life we are either going into a storm or coming out of a storm. At some point, probably many points in time, we will find ourselves “at wits end.” Our Lord is longsuffering with His children and always willing and faithful to bring us out of our distresses.

We can recall the story of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee when a sudden gale came blowing down from the mountains which surrounded the Sea of Galilee. It had been a day in which Jesus had been teaching to the multitudes many things and had spoken mostly in parables. Now at the end of the day Jesus and the disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was very tired and went into the hold of the boat and went to sleep. The disciples, many of them who were fisherman manned the boat as they set sail to the other side. As often happened on the Galilean Sea a storm came up and began to toss the boat in the rolling waves. The disciples who were good seaman in their own right struggled as best they could but were not able to control the wave tossed boat. They became at their wits end and were afraid that the boat would capsize. They went into the hold of the boat and awakened Jesus and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Jesus awoke and rebuked the sea and all was once again calm. He then said to the disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35:41) The disciples were at their wits end but the Lord was with them and all things are possible with Him.

There are several things that can bring us to our wits end. We can reach times when we feel physically helpless, or mentally helpless, and they are times when we find ourselves spiritually helpless. No matter what the circumstance our Lord is always ready to save us.

There was a woman who for 12 years was suffering from a hemorrhage, she had come to her physical wits end. She had probably been to see many doctors of whom none could help her. She had sought the help and advice of many friends of whom none could help her. She was undoubtedly at her wits end with her physical suffering. Then she heard of Jesus, she had heard that He was the Messiah and was preforming many signs and wonders throughout Galilee. And now he was coming and this would be her chance to have Him heal her. But the crowds around Him were large and she could not get His attention. But she believed that if she could just touch His garment that she would be healed. So she braved the crowd in the shame of her illness and struggled her way close enough to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe and immediately she was healed. Jesus felt the power withdraw from Him and turned to ask, “Who touched My garments?” The disciples looked at the large crowd and could not tell Jesus who had touched Him. But Jesus knew and laid His eyes upon her and the woman with fear and trembling told Jesus what she had done. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” The woman believed that touching the garment of Jesus would make her well. It takes more than belief, it takes faith, the faith to act on what we believe. When we find our self at wits end the Lord can help us if we act on faith that we believe He is able. (Mark 5:25:35)

In the 73rd Psalm we read of the Psalmist who had come to his mental wits end. “For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot. They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. Therefore his people return to this place, And waters of abundance are drunk by them. They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.” (Psalm 73:3-12) He is lamenting as to why the wicked continue to prosper while life for him is a struggle. The Psalmist is questioning God as to why life is so good for the wicked and why life is so hard for him? He saw their lives filled with reward and his as a life of sacrifice with little benefit. What is life to be for him when the wicked are having a good time? He was at his wits end and God met him there. It is times as these, when we are at wits end that we must not run away from God but run into His sanctuary. It is there in the sanctuary of God our minds will find solace. “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.” (Psalm 73:17-18) In the sanctuary of God it is there that the Spirit of Truth can renew our mind. “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5) The wicked are receiving their reward now and will take nothing with them as they are living in the flesh. The Christian is a spiritual being living in a physical world but when we leave this world we will take our spiritual assets found though Jesus Christ with us by our spiritual rebirth.

The worst I think is when we find ourselves at a spiritual wits end. I bring to the attention Mary Magdalene who was a constant companion of Jesus. We see her throughout the gospels with Jesus and she was there at the most crucial times in His ministry, the crucifixion and the resurrection. Life was not always good for Mary Magdalene as at for a portion of her life she was possessed by seven demons. The number seven in the Jewish custom is a perfect number. To me this means that May Magdalene was perfectly bad. The worst of the worst. I am sure it did not happen in just a day but was a progress of transition in her life. I wonder if when she first sinned she sought help from a local Rabbis. Maybe she often sought help from a dwindling pool of friends. She may have went to the psychiatrist for help or maybe even a witch doctor. No mater none were able to help her change her ways and as a result she became possessed by demotic spirits. With all the help she may have tried to find still she did not have it within herself to fight the fiery darts of the tempter and gave into a life of sin and shame. Then while at wits end she met Jesus there and He spoke the words of truth the set her free and the demons had left her. (Luke 8:2) We will always find that Jesus is waiting at wits end all we must do is call upon His name.

A lot of people in the world are at wits end because of their short sighted perspective on life. Most people are caught up in the here and now and not living for the there and then. For the lost they are caught in the physical world with no prospect for the eternal world to come. Some do not even admit to themselves that a life after this station even exists. For the Christian many do not fully grasp that fact that we are a spiritual being living in a physical world. They get caught up in the temporal and fail to have faith to live for the eternal. There is no peace in this world and there will be no peace in the next if we do not have peace with God. There is no peace in this world because most are in rebellion against God the Creator. But man can have peace now if he reconciles himself with God through Jesus Christ. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) When we have peace with God finding ourselves at wits end is but a blip on the larger screen of our eternal lives. The perspective is that we are not living for this world for it shall pass away. We are living in the light of the eternal world that is soon to come. But when we find ourselves in that blip what are we to do when at wits end?

The Apostle Peter gives us this word from God through his pen. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16) The Apostle tells us that when at wits end we are to consecrate, testify, and make a good confession.

When at wits end we are to consecrate ourselves to God. We are quick to praise God in the good times but too many blame God for the bad times. “Oh God why has thou brought this trial upon me?” We too often forget that God is in control and that He is as much God in our good times as He is in our bad times. If we trust Him then we should rejoice in the bad times as well as the good. If we act upon what we profess to believe on faith then, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If our home is in Heaven with the Lord then as the Apostle Paul said to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) We can with Job confidently in trust say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15) In the sanctuary of God as we bring are minds still and wait upon Him that we grow in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord. For as a man think so shall he be, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

When at wits end we are to make testimony for the reason of our hope. Through our faith in Jesus Christ we have eternal life, even now He is preparing a place for us in His Father’s many mansions. This is the joy that we have, this is the hope that we are to share to a lost world. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) There is nothing here in this world to have hope in so let us place our heart where the real treasure is, in the world to come. The story is told of the dying grandfather who told his family while in the last moments of his life. “Children live your lives seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, I pray thee that we all shall meet in the morning.” At wits end give a good testimony.

When at wits end so many run from God. They stop praying, stop studying their Bible, and stop going to Church and gathering with the saints. At wits end when the trial and tribulation of life comes crashing in this is the time to seek the Lord fervently. Why run from the source of every good and perfect gift when we should be humbly seeking His mercy. This is the time that we should be maintaining our Christian way of life as we make good confession to those who so much need to witness the strength of our faith. This could turn them from the emptiness of their life to the fullness of life abundantly. No matter what lay ahead of us in this world, how hard it may be we can endure if we face it with a good conscience. “As Christians we have spiritual defenses which no forces of evil can storm if we will scantily the Lord God in our hearts, be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and have a good conscience.” (RWK)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Pleasant Manor, November 29, 2014

wordpress analytics