When Backed Up Against the Wall

Have you ever been between a rock and a hard place? Have you prayed and healing was slow to come? Have you needed financial help that did not materialize? Have you ever been unemployed with no job prospects in sight? Have family issues taken you to the edge of the cliff? Life brings its challenges!

Following my college graduation in 1978, my wife and I moved to Gadsden, Alabama where I took a job with United Way. Also, we could live near my in-laws. A short time later, I lost that job and subsequently could not find new employment. Not even a local car wash would hire me, citing that I was overqualified. Later, our electricity was turned off and we literally sat in the dark for two days. I truly knew in my heart that God was going to intervene. However, we still sat in the dark. 

Initially, I became angry and staged a pity party. I was a sight to behold! Feeling sorry for myself and an overall bad attitude kept me in tears. “I cried, “Lord, you failed me.” I sounded much like the Israelites when backed up against the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. They said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did you bring us out here in the desert to die” (Exodus 14:11)? 

Gadsden, Alabama is a wonderful city, but my two years there were characterized by lack and hard times. It seemed that nothing worked out. The more I prayed, the more difficult things became. To this day, I have difficulty even driving by the city! After all these years, I still do not understand why 1978-80 were lean, difficult years. The only good thing that came out of those trying days was the birth of our oldest daughter. Even then, the enemy tried to kill both her and my wife during a very traumatic delivery. 

Admittedly, I allowed anger to fester in my soul. I loved the Lord but was mad at Him. I felt that He let me down. What appeared to be a blessing by moving to Gadsden became one of the greatest challenges of my life. That’s why, to his day, I read the Israelites’ Red Sea encounter with mixed emotions. The nation’s great deliverance from Egypt, soon turned into a logistical nightmare. From their perspective, disaster was imminent. They 

were backed up against the Red Sea with no escape in sight. Gadsden represents my “Red Sea” encounter. After four years of college, God chose to enroll me in His “School of Hard Knocks.” And I was not ready. My heart was proud and my spirit perplexed.

What do you do when nothing, and I mean nothing works out? When things go from bad to worse. In retrospect, here’s what I suggest, even though at the time I was too spiritually immature to understand. By the way, these ten suggestions are easier said than done, but it seems that experience remains our best teacher.

1. Keep praying. Ask the Lord to continually search your heart and expose any wickedness. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties. And see if there is any wicked way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

2. Repent of any hidden sins. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).

3. Keep in mind that what you’re going through, you’re going through! “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

4. Gather a prayer support group around you. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).

5. Don’t allow others’ opinions to pull you down. No one needs a “Job’s comforter” when life is overwhelming. According to episodes in the book of Job, three friends  – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar–attempt to comfort him but only add to his misery. Be careful who you tell what!

6. Stay around God’s people and God’s house. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

7. Avoid feeling sorry for yourself. Faith does not attend pity parties! “Now faith is the substances of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).


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