Between A Rock and a Hard Place

  • Pete Johnson
worried man

Have you ever been in a moment where you had to make a decision?  I’m not talking about the kind where you are ordering a meal at McDonald’s with a line behind you and you have to decide if you want cheese or no cheese. I know that’s pressure, but I mean the type of decision that carries weighty consequences no matter what you decide to do.  Some of these types of decisions that immediately come to mind are: “Should I quit my job and start my own business?”, “Should I sell my house and move my family across the country?” “Do I invest my money or keep it savings?”  “Do I go through chemo or not?” These moments force us to choose between two or more outcomes that have the potential to be extremely painful, shameful, or even deadly, this is what some refer to as being “between a rock and a hard place”. 

In 2003, Aron Ralston, a highly experienced outdoor enthusiast, found himself, literally, between a rock and a hard place. While on an excursion, Ralston had his right-hand and upper forearm pinned against a canyon wall by an 800 lb boulder. Trapped in a small slot canyon for 5 days with no hope of being rescued, out of water and food, and with the looming fear of death, Ralston had to make a decision: stay with his armed pinned and die for sure, or do something as drastic as cutting his arm off to get out of the situation he was in. Ralston, for the sake of his life, made the choice and used his pocket knife to amputate part of his arm and walked out of the canyon, and lives today to tell his story.  

Matthew 26: 36-46 tells of a story of being between a rock and a hard place that is far greater than the story of Aron Ralston, it’s the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew’s account tells how Jesus prayed earnestly, 

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” 

That cup of crucifixion, which included pain, suffering, shame, and separation from His Father.

The Gospels of Mark and Luke both give descriptions of Jesus’ mindset during this:

“And he said unto them, My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death.” (Mark 14:34).

“And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44).

Christ prayed that if God’s will could be accomplished, the redemption of sinners, without something as drastic as what he would go through; let it be so. However, if not, God’s only Son prayed that the Father would help him to drink the cup; to fully accept in perfect obedience his own death on the cross. 

Here we see two examples of being between a “rock and a hard place”, one took drastic measures to save his own life, the other took drastic measures to save mankind. Because Jesus loves us, he chose to be obedient to the Father and sacrifice his perfect sinless life, a decision necessary to redeem us.

Just think with me for a minute: Jesus knew full well the consequences awaiting him for deciding to obey the Father’s will. He understood the seriousness of what would happen. 

  • He would be slapped in the face
  • He would have his beard pull out
  • He would be spat upon
  • He would be mocked
  • He would be beaten within an inch of his life
  • He would be forced to carry the instrument used to murder him 

All these consequences: very painful, very shameful, and deadly. Yet the thing that would hurt the most was that his relationship between him and his Father would be severed. He would be forsaken by the Father. “My God, my God why has thou forsaken me?” 

As we ponder the decision Christ made and the resulting consequences, let’s for a moment think about decisions we as Believers need to make, in those times we find ourselves “between a rock and hard place”. Am I willing to suffer loss, shame, pain, and even death to grow in Christ, my sanctification? As a believer would I quit my job because it hinders my growth in Christ? Would I stop going to places and doing things, that compromise my testimony? Would I stop hanging out with friends who hinder my spiritual growth? Perhaps today you find yourself between a “rock and a hard place” regarding your walk with the Lord. Perchance you feel the pressures, the anxiety, and can foresee the consequences of making that decision. So what’s the best way to make that decision when you’re between a rock and a hard place? 

 Seek out godly counsel: not someone who will just tell you want you want to hear, but someone who will tell you what God’s word says.

 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

 Pray and ask God for wisdom and strength

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

  Step out in faith, trusting God will be with you all the way. 

 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”   Hebrews 13:5-6

 Trusting God and making the decision to obey it is not always the easy choice, but it is always the right choice. 

 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:14-15