In the movie Princess Bride, the heroic Wesley finds himself trapped and tortured in the “Pit of Despair.” He is eventually murdered, but his friends Inigo and Fezzik take him to Miracle Max who brings him back to life for two reasons: because he is only “mostly dead” and because he has a strong reason to live – true love.
So Wesley comes back to life and this swashbuckling cast fight their way into the castle to retrieve Buttercup on her wedding day and it’s a classic tale where the good guys win and the bad guys lose.
What I want to focus on here is that when Wesley was in the Pit of Despair it was love, true love, that brought him back to life.
Sometimes we can feel like we are in the Pit of Despair in our lives too. Where we feel trapped with our circumstances, with the people who surround us, or with life in general. Sometimes, it might feel like there is so little hope that we can’t find a glimmer of light to shine the way out.
I’ve been to the pit of despair before in my life. I know how suffocating it can be to feel trapped and anxious to the point where it takes effort to breathe slowly and deeply.
But you can get yourself out of this metaphorical abyss, even if it takes relying on something or someone stronger than yourself, someone like God, whose love is the purest and most powerful..
Here are four things you can do when the world feels bleak and you have come to the end of yourself . . . when you might feel “mostly dead” like Wesley, the clever pirate-swordsman:
- Find something to be thankful for. When I’m lost in that dark and swirling abyss, the bad things want to drown out the good things. I want to curl up in a warm blanket, cry and throw a massive pity party . . . Except that when life is darkest, that’s when I need to see light the most.
This is when I count my blessings or think of all the times God has been faithful in my life and in the lives of others.
This is why I have a notebook pre-made and ready beforehand just for this battle of the mind – a book with comforting scriptures and reminders of the times God made a way I did not see. Create a book or make notes on your phone for this purpose, especially if you often become lost in the darkness of life.
Find scriptures to bring the light back in and speak them out loud until you realize the light has never left you . . . You just haven’t been looking in the right direction.
2. Don’t stop talking to friends. I’m also the worst about wanting to hide my fears, my insecurities and my tears. I don’t want anyone to think I am “weak.”
But Paul says when we are weak, that is when Jesus is strong in us (2 Corinthians 12:10). When I am at my wits end, that is when I am forced to get over myself and surrender completely to God.
Because the problem is that I want to be in control.
I don’t want to be considered an “emotional, hormonal woman.” Well, let me tell you something, society, David, one of the greatest kings of old, wept loudly, even for his enemies (2 Samuel 1:12; 2 Samuel 3:32).
When we feel like we are alone in whatever we struggle with, that’s when a feeling of hopelessness creeps in. But, when we are open and vulnerable with people we can trust, they can encourage us, bring light into our lives, and pray for us.
Wesley wouldn’t have made it out of the Pit of Despair without Inigo and Fezzik. Who are those people in your life you can trust to climb into your abyss to get you out?
Or at the very least throw you a rope? Know who those friends are so you can also do the same for them.
3. Don’t stop praying. Why does it seem like when we are in our own Pits of Despair God isn’t listening?
God never promises us an easy and comfortable life, but he does promise that in the midst of our deepest hardships and hottest fires, he will be with us (Daniel 3:25).
The moments in my life when I experience the most peace and joy are when I’m at my lowest and reach out desperately to God. Sadly, I wish I could reach out to him desperately without first needing my life to fall apart.
Honestly, it can all be traced back to personal pride. It’s that “I want to be in control and in charge of my own destiny and do what I want to do because I know best” attitude that got Lucifer thrown out of heaven and Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden.
In the end I have to give up my personal pride. I have to realize that I’m not God then worship the one who is. I must become less so he can become greater (John 3:30).
Also, God never leaves us alone to fight our battles. When we trust in him, he takes care of the armies swirling around us. There are many examples from the Bible, but here are the stories of Hezekiah and Elisha:
*Hezekiah trusted in the Lord when Sennacherib and his Assyrians came to invade Jerusalem and God said he would take care of it, and he did. Sennacherib went home after losing 185,000 men to the angel of death (Isaiah 37:36).
Hezekiah had gone straight to God in humility. He didn’t try to gear up his own horses, chariots or armies. He went to the temple and prayed, and God took care of it (Isaiah 37:14-20) (Read this prayer if you have time today).
*When Aramean armies came to find and kill Elisha in 2 Kings 6:13-14, he and his servant woke up in the morning completely surrounded. The servant was terrified, but Elisha prayed that the servant’s eyes would be opened to see God’s armies, too.
God took care of them by blinding the entire army and Elisha led his men straight into the Israelite camp to treat them with hospitality. The next day, each army went home without a scratch.
Sometimes God says to wait (Habakkuk 2:3), which is the hardest part. But waiting with God is a lot better than waiting without him.
4. Rely on true love. In Greek this type of love is called agape, and it’s a sacrificial, unconditional love.
That’s what saves us in the end: the love of Christ that frees us from today’s bondage and gives us hope for tomorrow. He died for us so we could live.
Abundant life doesn’t start when we die and get to heaven. It starts now.
Here I must offer a disclaimer: “Abundant life” doesn’t mean God will give you everything you want and you die fat, wealthy and happy in a big mansion with no worries. This is not Lion King, and we are not singing “Hakuna Matata” in church.
There will be struggles.
There will be Pits of Despair.
But God promises to be in those trials with us, to fight for us, and to comfort us the whole time!
Jesus loves you so much that he sacrificed heaven and life itself for you. Don’t forget it. Claim the following promise:
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
God is our swash-buckling hero, and he will always come back for his bride.