Nowhere else to go
“I have been many times driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Not quite 152 years ago, the United States endured “the single bloodiest day in American military history” at the battle of Antietam. Despite having a two-to-one advantage in troop numbers, the federal forces were unable to achieve more than a draw, though Lincoln claimed victory in driving Lee’s forces from Maryland.
The quote above, documented in Scribner’s Monthly, must have been referring to the events of 1862. It would be hard to imagine a more difficult year for anyone to endure. Lincoln’s beloved son Willie had died in February, and the outcome of the war was far from certain at the end of that year.
Lincoln’s struggles with depression have been a topic of much conjecture, but I am far more amazed at his resilience and ability to press on in the face of relentlessly daunting opposition, both political and military. Who wouldn’t have been depressed, given his circumstances? Yet he led our nation through its most desperate era, and I’m convinced he could not have accomplished all that he did, had he not sought divine help.
I feel fairly certain that nobody who is reading this post will ever face trials of the magnitude that Lincoln withstood. Yet all of us must sometimes share his feeling that our own wisdom and everyone else’s combined is not sufficient for the complexity of challenges we navigate.
The next time you feel you have nowhere to go, remember Lincoln and the responsibilities he bore. His actions continue to reverberate to this day, and more than one historian believes he was the greatest president in our nation’s history. May his words and example provide us with inspiration to defeat despair.
One year ago today: