Words of Worth

Hitting the Wall

October 19, 2012

It’s called “Hitting the Wall” and it is a well-known and much dreaded phenomenon among athletes – the professional elite and amateur runners – especially in long distance races. Hitting the wall typically happens around mile 18. A simple definition would be: when a runner runs out of energy.

One famous marathoner put it this way, “It felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and was making me carry it the rest of the way in.” – Dick Beardsley on his second marathon in 1977.

Earlier this week I received an SOS from a friend out on the racecourse. She was at mile 18 and staring at “The Wall”. She wasn’t physically running at the time and she may have even been sitting in her chair drinking coffee but due to some heart wrenching circumstances, she was facing a drain of emotional and spiritual energy. She is currently participating in the same race we are all running: The Life Marathon.

She needed a fresh supply of endurance. The elephant in the tree had launched itself down on her back and there were still miles left to travel.

We talked, we prayed and we finally laughed a little.

The next morning as I jotted down some specific requests on her prayer card, I asked God to show me exactly how to pray for her. Wouldn’t you know every verse and passage I read that day was on perseverance? God is kind, isn’t He?

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

Now the context of this verse is unity but the devotion book I was reading pointed out what the author called “the twin sisters of grace – endurance and encouragement”. Endurance and encouragement! The author goes on to say, “I praise you for these twin sisters of grace. One without the other would not be enough. Endurance without encouragement can atrophy into heartless stoicism. Encouragement without endurance can wither into short-lived enthusiasm. Give us both, bunches of both.” (Everyday Prayers, Scotty Smith)

What an amazing insight. We don’t want to just clench our teeth and trudge forward while our heart grows cold and free of passion. Neither do we want to have a burst of energy that will only get us a few more yards down the road before we collapse under the weight of that elephant on our shoulders. We need both endurance and encouragement; God is the God of both.

Now as I pray for my friend, I imagine her moving forward flanked on either side by the twin sisters of endurance and encouragement. The elephant is still there but she has help managing the extra burden. She can do it and so can you. God is able and willing to help. (ct)

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

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