Hitting The Wall

Have you hit the coronavirus wall yet? Hitting the wall is a feeling of despair and the desire to give up during an extended trial. It includes a pervasive numbness born of frustration. The only light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

Listen to Elijah: “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers! ... I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (I Kings 19:4, 10). Wham! That was Elijah hitting the wall.

Listen to David during his flight from Saul: “And David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to see me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand’” (I Sam. 27:1). Whump! David, too, hit the wall.

What can we learn from these two examples?

Principle #1: Take care of yourself physically. Elijah’s emotional exhaustion was compounded by lack of sleep and nutrition. Thus God allowed Elijah to sleep and sent an angel to provide food and water (I Kings 19:5-7). Emotional crisis only deepens when we neglect our physical well-being. We may stop eating (or eat too much); anxiety robs us of sleep; we have no energy for exercise. This, no doubt, has a debilitating spiritual effect as well.

Principle #2: Take a break and ponder God. For reasons not explained, Elijah headed for Horeb, or Mount Sinai. Perhaps he wanted to just get away from it all, or maybe he was searching for his “roots.” Sinai is where the nation came of age under Moses’ leadership. It is there that Elijah’s spiritual balance was restored by God’s “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12).

Principle #3: Keep focused on your purpose. While Elijah felt he had accomplished little in the face of Jezebel’s relentless corruption, God still had work for him to do. While we all wish we could bear more fruit for the Lord, despair causes us to quit trying altogether. This is what Satan wants, and we can’t hand him such an easy victory.

Principle #4: Don’t make things worse. This is what David did in taking refuge among the Philistines. He created an elaborate hoax that nearly got him conscripted into battle against his countrymen (I Sam. 27:8-12; 29). In the meantime, he left his village unguarded and the marauding Amalekites took everyone captive. David’s men threatened mutiny and murder (I Sam. 30:1-7). Be wary of actions and decisions while in the throes of frustration. They likely will come back to haunt us.

Principle #5: Turn to God for help. David finally woke from his spiritual slumber and sought guidance from God, even amid the wreckage of his bad judgment (I Sam. 30:6-8). Chances are we’re all going to hit the wall at some point. God is always there to help us back to our feet and open a door of hope to the future.