Between a Rock and a Hard Place
July 22, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. - James 1:2 NKJV.
How many times have I been at the end of my rope and felt like I was losing my grip? I’m not sure, but it has been more than a few times. My reaction today to problems is much different than it was when I was a new Christian. Back then I thought that I was able to handle things on my own. I thought I was intelligent and energetic enough to handle whatever came my way. If bad things happened, God was the last place I went for help. I surely would not be asking other people to pray about my situation. In fact, I would try not to let anyone know about my problems hoping they could be solved before anyone found out. I was much more concerned about what other people thought than anything else.
Flash forward thirty years and my reaction to problems is to immediately pray and ask God to help. Not only do I pray and ask God to help but I tell everyone I possibly can asking them to pray too. My prayer life now is not merely reactive but proactive. I pray about everything in my life and for everyone in my area of influence. I ask for God’s protection, for His wisdom because I have learned through very difficult times that indeed I don’t know everything and I cannot do everything but He does and can.
King David experienced the same type of evolution in his relationship with God. At one point, David thought himself to be and was known to be “very crafty - NKJV” or able to “dealeth very subtilely - KJV (1 Samuel 23:22).” After all David had been able to kill the giant Goliath and for some time had been able to elude the clutches of the crazy King Saul. But David eventually found himself in that place between a rock and a hard place. The Ziphites in their double-dealing with David and King Saul was able to lead the King and his army to David’s hiding place.
David and his men hid out on a waterless rock “in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon (1 Samuel 23:24).” David and Saul played a cat and mouse game of going from one side to the other side of the mountain. Saul eventually split up his 3,000 men in an encircling maneuver. There would be no escape for David and if they took off across the desert plain then, Saul would easily see and eventually overtake them with superior numbers. It was just a matter of time before it would be over for David. No amount of craftiness would help him now. But just before the end came a messenger came to King Saul saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land (1 Samuel 23:27)!” Amazingly the army of King Saul left when they would have soon destroyed David and his men.
For this occasion David wrote Psalm 54 which reveals he has given up any idea of his being able to survive by his own craftiness, “Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, and oppressors have sought after my life; they have not set God before them. Selah. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; and my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.”
Are you between a rock and a hard place? The only place left to go is to God and I think that is why James says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Because in that situation we are forced to draw near to God and in the process we become more conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and God draws near to us (James 4:8).