WITS' END is a bad neighborhood! There's too much traffic—people always running back and forth down Panic Street, which is a Dead End. Some people choose to live there permanently, others visit regularly and often. Don't count on your neighbors to rescue you in an emergency if you live there. Other people never help you if you are at WITS' END. They are too engrossed in their own anxieties and fears. The “Trust Police” are available 24/7 to patrol the neighborhood, but no one seems to call them.
All of us have been at WITS' END at one time or another. Did you know there's a verse in the Bible that uses that term? “They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their WITS' END.” (Psalm 107:27) Every version of the Bible I checked translated the verse in the same way.
The dramatic scene took place on shipboard in a stormy sea. The deck of the ship was “rising up to the heavens and going down to the depths.” I almost get seasick reading that as I recall ocean voyages when I experienced such a feeling in the pit of my stomach! One is at the mercy of the storm.
What are your “wits”? Sometimes we say that a person doesn't have his “wits” about him. Or that he is a “half wit” or a “nit wit.” The dictionary defines “wits” as our understanding, intelligence, or reasoning powers. If you come to the end of your wits, you are at the end of your abilities to cope or to get yourself out of your predicament. Similar cliches are: having your back to the wall, being at the end of your rope, painting yourself into a corner. There is no way out, no one to help you, and you can't deliver yourself.
The Psalmist didn't leave us in suspense in describing what happened on shipboard in the storm when they were at their WITS' END. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed.” Their response? “Then they were glad because they were quiet; so He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!” (107:28-31)
Why do we always seem to wait so long before we call on the Lord in our WITS' END situations? We wait until we get into emergencies, exhaust our human resources, then we panic. We struggle to get ourselves out. If that doesn't work, the next thing we do is to call for other people. Our first call should be to God. WITS' END is not the place God prepared for us to live.
A similar incident in the life of Jesus is recorded in Luke chapter eight. Jesus was sound asleep in the middle of the lake in a boat His disciples were sailing. Jesus was both God and man and the human side of Him was exhausted from ministry to crowds of people. A storm suddenly came up. The disciples were at their WITS' END crying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Did they really think God the Father would let His beloved Son Jesus drown and all His friends with Him? Jesus rebuked the wind to be still and rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Jesus didn't disappoint them when they were at their WITS' END. He reenacted exactly what those verses in Psalm 107 described. “Then they were glad because they were quiet; so He guided them to their desired haven.”
How many times in our lives have we been at our WITS' END? Perhaps we are visiting that neighborhood right now? God has always been faithful, hasn't He? He saw us through before; He will do the same for us today. He may not rescue us exactly the way we think He should or how we ask Him, but He will calm our storm. The Lord will give us peace on the inside although the storm may continue to rage on the outside.
(Come back tomorrow for some OUTWITTING strategies!)