Peace at Wit’s End

Wit’s end is not a place at which we want to arrive. It is the cul-de-sac at the end of a long read paved with sweat, effort, stress, fear, and more effort. When we get there we realize it is the end, nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. All that sweat and effort, all those tears, all that anxiety brought us to exactly nowhere. Welcome to Wit’s end.

Editor’s Note: For those of you who were Adventures in Odyssey fans, this is not that Wit’s End. That was a happy place.

When we arrive here what is our response? Depression maybe. Exhaustion probably. Anger and resentment possibly. Fruitlessly doubling down on all the same things that didn’t work previously. Collapse.

When we arrive at wit’s end we can be sure of one thing: we have exhausted every means of solving a problem that we know. We could not turn the business around. We could not restore our marriage. We could not save that loved one’s soul. We could not right the ship of a sinking church. We could not fix whatever it was despite all our efforts. It is a helpless feeling.

It is called ‘wit’s end” because every ounce of wit and wisdom we hold has been poured out. Life has out witted us. Sin has out witted us. It is beyond our capacity to resolve or solve.

There is another response, though. Peace.

The end of our wits are the beginning of God’s, and His are both endless and perfect. Stubborn, arrogant, well-intentioned, naïve beings that we are we only come to the place of handing over troubles to God when we realize we simply cannot carry them any further. We only ask Him to show the way when we’ve reached the end of ours. This is a hard place, an empty place. But when we are empty we can be filled.

We can be filled with peace. We can curl up in wit’s end and sleep easy because we know that all the mental machinations that caused insomnia are for naught. We finally see that this is God’s problem to solve in the way He sees fit and in a manner only He can accomplish. There is peace in giving up because in this case giving up is really giving over – giving over our troubles to the one who can resolve them.

Wit’s end is not a place at which we want to arrive, but it is often the place where we need to arrive. Wit’s end is a place where there are only two responses: anguish or peace. There was no peace on the road, but there can be here because we finally realize all we can do is pray and rest – exactly what God wants from us.  It is not bliss, but it is peace because all our troubles are no longer in our hands. They are in hands that can and will actually do precisely what needs doing.

I live in the Nashville area and spend my days helping churches with leadership development. My nights are spent writing and rooting for Minnesota sports teams. I also podcast a bit. I'm the author of The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity, Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is Not the Enemy of Faith, and The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life