“Surely, oppression maketh a wise man mad…” Ecclesiastes 7:7a
In my line of work, I am privileged to meet several people with differing degrees of challenges that seem to defy imminent solution. When some people come to see me for counseling, they come as if they have the worst case anyone can think about. Some would even say that they have evidently come to the end of the road because they cannot think of a possible exit route from their dilemma.
There is no leader that I know that has not had that feeling of exasperation where they cannot seem to fathom a way out of certain situations that task not only their resources but also their reasoning. The end of the road feeling happens when present experience is in stark conflict with our loftiest dreams, in spite of having put in what we consider to be our best efforts. It is the kind of feeling you get when you need to make an important journey and you arrive at the airport only to be told that the last flight to your destination took off an hour earlier and there would not be another for the day. Or what you feel when have an assignment that has a deadline and as that deadline stares you in the face, you have no clue what to do. The end of the road feeling is something common to every dreamer who feels that his dreams have become scary nightmares. You probably know the feeling.
When we feel that there is no way out of our dilemma, there is always a tendency to become desperate in the search for a way out, especially when going back to ground zero is not an option. I can imagine the feelings of the children of Israel as they approached the Red Sea. While they were still wondering how they would cross the Red Sea, they looked behind and saw the host of the Egyptian under the leadership of the Pharaoh himself not only in pursuit but closing in on them so fast they which would come first, being drowned in the sea or being completely overrun by the Egyptian army. They could not see any solution in sight. It was a clear situation of ‘heads you lose, tails you still lose’! In their desperation, they began to rail against the leadership of Moses and the vision he claimed to have had for their liberation from Egyptian bondage. They actually expressed a desire to return to Egypt and continue being slaves instead of being given a mass burial in the sea! Until God intervened through their leader Moses, whose conviction that God had an answer even if he didn’t, made him cry out to the One who had brought them out of Egypt in the first place.
A few lessons from this story found in Exodus 14 in the Bible. The first casualty of a desperate situation is our thinking faculty. Desperate situations engender desperate thoughts. Desperate thoughts in turn produce desperate people. In a dilemma, we seek the easiest way out even if it involves a significant setback. The Israelites had been in slavery for more than four hundred years and had been rescued with attendant signs and wonders, as the Bible says ‘with a mighty hand’. But when faced with a desperate situation, they forgot the miraculous circumstances that brought them out and kept them up till the point of getting to the Red Sea.
When faced with a dead-end situation, learn to be quiet. In desperation, we tend to speak words that betray our frustration. Most of such words are said without thinking and can only take us farther away from our desired destination. The despair we feel, if not properly handled, can actually turn us to impossibility thinkers.
Every crisis is however, an opportunity for creative thinking. Unfortunately, when we feel heavily mentally oppressed, the opposite is usually the case. In a logjam, there is the tendency to believe that no one can understand the way we feel or what we are going through because they do not or have never had an identical experience. This is the attitude that makes many people in desperate situations reject or shun good counsel. More often than not, what they seek is someone to reinforce their hopelessness. Desperate people will usually seek and gravitate towards partners in misery who simply help them to magnify their image of forlorn hopelessness as if to console themselves that at least they are not the only ones in a grind! A desperate person who is locked in a negative mindset is like a bull entering a china shop. It is guaranteed to cause significant damage to persons, morale and materials.
So what do you do when you get to that point in your life where you feel that you are at the end of the road? Pause and think. Let your imagination create a reality beyond the barrier that you currently see. Never be in a haste to conclude that your situation is peculiar to you. For every problem that confronts you, you will find out if you are observant enough that there are many people who had not only experienced worse but were able to successfully navigate their way out.
There is a scripture that I have grown to love so deeply over the years. It is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. I quote it in part from the Amplified Version.
“For no temptation…[no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful… and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but … He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”
When you get to that point in life where you feel that things are so bad that you cannot see an end to the problem, always remember that your case is not peculiar. Secondly always remind yourself that with god, there is always a way of escape! Nobody with God on his side is ever really stranded no matter how bleak the situation appears. You are never stranded until you have lost God-consciousness!
End of the road? There is no such thing until you have lost all capacity to dream again. So when you get to the end of the road, not to worry. Simply take the road and stretch it to the end of your dreams. You will find God waiting there!
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!