When You’re at the End of Your Rope … Let Go!


The classic advice to “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on” is useful to a point. The point being where you forget to consider whether this rope is worth hanging onto at all. If your determination not to let go is rooted in a demand to run your own life and not give up an inch of plans, possessions, or pride, you may simply be collecting enough rope to hang yourself.

The author of Psalm 46 had a better idea when he heeded God’s command to “Be still” (v. 10), even in the midst of external chaos. Stop rushing about and give your brain a chance to catch up. Calm down and remember Who’s really in charge of this world. And hear God telling you what the original audience for Psalm 46 would have heard in the original Hebrew: for them, the word translated “Be still” would have come with a clear sense of going limp, acknowledging their weakness, even giving up. Not giving up on hope or on God: giving up on themselves, on their presumed right to make their own decisions, on their attempts to win battles in their own strength. “Being still”–letting go–in this sense means remembering that when we succeed, we succeed not with “a little help” from God, but entirely in His strength.

That’s good news when we wonder if we have to choose between being effective and being happy. What would be your reaction if someone said, “The more you make an impact for God, the more the Devil is going to fight you. You never outgrow it; it just gets more intense”? I read those exact words in a Rick Warren devotional on spiritual warfare yesterday morning, and my first thoughts were, “So all I can expect for obedience is to encounter more and more misery? So much for God’s generosity. Since I’m already guaranteed Heaven, I think I’ll settle for staying mediocre and comfortable-most-of-the-time while I’m on Earth.”

But wait. Nobody said we’ll never get a minute of peace, or that every attack will be more painful and harder to withstand than the last. As our impact for God grows with our closeness to Him, so does our natural resistance to Satan’s “flaming arrows.” Exercising our spiritual muscles through prayer and obedience means that our strength will increase to match our troubles, just as well-exercised physical muscles can bear without a grunt a workout that would have made the whole body collapse a few months earlier.

Still, exercising those muscles and growing that strength is a task that’s never completed in this lifetime. Many sincere believers never really “get” that fact. The first generation of Israelites to be offered the land of Canaan, lost their nerve when they realized God expected them to work for it. The next generation did much better–but they still decided at a certain point they’d done enough, and failed to follow through on God’s instructions for finishing the job. They were still trying to hang on to a bit of “rope” that promised personal comfort, at the price of being less effective for God.

Are you willing to give up dangling from your worn-out rope, and drop onto the solid ground of God’s direction?

  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at www.PositiveContentFactory.com.

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for copyright details.
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