“Well, when one has no one, nowhere else one can go! For every man must have somewhere to go. Since there are times when one absolutely must go somewhere!” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
On such a predicament as described by Marmeladov, a character from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, it is one’s tendency to reassess one’s options. Surely, one thinks, there must be somewhere one can go. But what if each option leads to a dead end? Others will probably continue to plan, hoping against hope that they would discover an exit. Others will probably surrender. Marmeladov did and he doused his helplessness in wine.
The psalmist behind Psalm 121 probably experienced the same anguish that Marmeladov felt. As customary among Jewish men, he was on a pilgrimage to the temple. We are not aware of his circumstance but it could be that he had nowhere else to go. He lifted his eyes to the hills of Jerusalem and perhaps he wondered if the city was that “somewhere” that will accept him and offer him aid. But the psalmist understood that help does not come from the hills but from God, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Trusting in God requires a certain surrender, an acceptance that one has nowhere else to go but to Him. Oftentimes, however, we thrash and flail as one drowning, a mad attempt to grab hold of something that might help us keep afloat. And even when we do resolve to trust, we’d imagine how God’s help would come through this or that, forgetting that His ways are higher than ours.
I think having nowhere else to go but to God is beautiful. Because it is in our inadequacy that His strength shines. Paul, after God spoke to him of how His power is made perfect in our weakness, concluded, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”