Imagine you are going down the side of a 200-foot cliff — with a 100-foot rope. At 99 feet down, you find yourself literally dangling “at the end of your rope.”
What an apt metaphor for a hopeless situation. At this juncture, there are but three options — none of them good:
- Try to climb back up (which is physically impossible for most people),
- hang on as long as you can in hopes of an eventual rescue, or
- give up and let go.
Eugene Peterson uses this powerful “end of the rope” image in his paraphrase of the Bible, which puts ancient thoughts into contemporary terms. Consider the following “end of the rope” references from The Message:
- “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.” [Matthew 5:3]
- “The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘They will respect my son.’” [Matthew 21:35]
- “When someone gets to the end of his rope, I [Paul] feel the desperation in my bones.” [2 Corinthians 11:28]
- “Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope. You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.” [Psalm 79:8]
- “Your anger [God] is far and away too much for us; we’re at the end of our rope. You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed since we were children is entered in your books.” [Psalm 90:3]
- “Oh, God, my Lord, step in; work a miracle for me—you can do it! Get me out of here—your love is so great!— I’m at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.” [Psalm 109:21]
- “God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.” [Psalm 116:1]
- “Hurry with your answer, God! I’m nearly at the end of my rope. Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me! That would be certain death.” [Psalm 143:7]
When we are at the end of our rope — and it happens to all of us sooner or later — God is there to rescue us (option 2); so don’t give up.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.