In this life nobody is exempted from experiencing rock bottom or “end of our rope” moments – whence “hope,” having seemingly lost its significance, remains what it is: a plain empty word.
How many times in our most dire situation do we grope for anything – from impulsive praying to “biting the bullet” – that could save us, lest we give up or, worse, entertain the thought of ending our life.
I have had my share of such rock bottom or worst circumstances. On hindsight, under those wrenching moments, I often clung to some comforting thoughts – which, at times under extreme circumstances, seem to me as just “feel good” or placebo conjectures.
One, for example, is the oft quoted truism, “Nothing is permanent in this life.” Yet, when you’re in your bottom-most moment, such truism fails to assuage the agony of the moment, or painfully waiting for the situation to become better.
Another likely feel-good thought is “Your success or failure is not defined by others.” Oh my, in my worst of circumstances, it’s my survival, less than success, that matters – more than others’ expectations or opinions.
There’s also the likely acquiescent advice, “Mistakes are OK.” But, to me, this seems to be bordering already on surrendering yourself or acknowledging your failure.
Whilst, reckoning on my past devastating or “almost terminal” moments, I have observed three most compelling reasons for not giving up – yourself and the reason for the situation, your loved ones or others, and God.
1. Yourself and the reason for the situation
In wrenching rock bottom moments, one of the crucial realizations to make is about yourself. Find yourself – you’re still breathing or alive, with your senses and cognition, and capable of “knowing and willing” or thinking and deciding. Finding yourself is realizing or accepting, without giving up- or surrendering, the fact that you’re in such a dire situation. The more you repel or abhor such fact, the greater your anxiety or agony.
After finding yourself in such a devastating situation, try to find the MEANING or “reason for the situation.” If Christ is the “reason for the Christmas season,” there is always a reason for every situation. Challenges and struggles happen for a reason.
In broad terms, I can cite three positive meanings or reasons for challenges and struggles: 1) they are opportunities for growth; 2) they teach you to care for others; 3) they are a prelude to your victory!
But as each challenging circumstance is unique, you have to wisely discern the unique positive reason or meaning for your own situation.
2. Your loved ones or others
One of the tangible or most compelling reasons for not giving up under worst circumstances is your loved ones. They are counting on you. For most of us, one of the most fundamental reasons for clinging on to dear life is the fact that our loved ones need us in as much as we need them too. There have been countless accounts of people who have been through NDE or near-death experience and have attested that their reason for coming back to life is their child, spouse, sibling, or kin.
Or, it could be other people, who draw inspiration from you, from your dire situation. You never know that someone else may just not give up because he or she has seen you refusing to give up. And the moment you give up, others – your loved ones especially – may just as well throw in the towel and follow suit.
But, what about, God forbid, if none of your loved ones is present or alive to serve as your compelling reason not to give up?
This happened to one of my friends, a kababayan from Leyte, who, during the 2013 Typhoon Yolanda devastation, alone survived in his family of eight. In an attempt to flee from the tragedy, he came to Manila. But, deeply traumatized, he ended up wandering aimlessly the streets – until some friends and fellow kababayans caught up with him and patiently helped him overcome his anguish and despair.
Well, with this kind of worst case, I can only infer that he still had himself, his friends or kababayans, and most importantly, which leads us to the next compelling reason, God.
3. God is bigger than your problems.
Sometimes, amid worst situations, you dare ask, “Where is God?” Perhaps, you’re not questioning his existence, but you complain for his “absence,” if not his “silence.” You fail to realize however that God’s silence is not necessarily his absence. His seeming inactivity is never his apathy. In times of challenges and struggles, God shows his greatness – his being greater than all your problems. He makes you whole through your brokenness. Oftentimes, the most painful and hardest things in life merely turn out to be clear pathways for God’s miracles to happen in your life!
In sum, we have three most compelling reasons for not giving up: 1) Yourself and the reason for the situation; 2) Loved ones or significant others; and 3) God.
But, on final reckoning, I am impelled to re-formulate the list in its inverted form, with God as the FIRST ONE. Because God, being the “be-all and end-all,” matters most.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)