(I preached this sermon on Sunday, Feb 7, 2021 in response to the Gospel reading — Mark 1:29–39. You can see the entire service as well as the sermon at our church website — www.ststephenlc.org.)
Marathon runners are intimately familiar with a concept called hitting the wall. It usually hits somewhere between mile 18 and mile 22. Everyone experiences the wall differently, but the core of it is that everything hurts — physically, mentally, emotionally. You feel lost and hopeless. You’ve gone so very far, and yet you aren’t done yet. Your body is drained. And your spirits are empty. Your mind doesn’t help either.
This is where we are as a society in the midst of this marathon of a pandemic. So many people are hitting a pandemic wall.
The phrase pandemic wall has become popular in the last couple of weeks — which makes sense really. It’s the idea that many people are hitting the wall with this pandemic. We have been going at this for months. We have been doing what we are supposed to. We haven’t seen family and friends. We are being responsible. And we are exhausted, often feel hopeless, and sense that there is no end in sight to this pandemic. We’ve been going at this for just about a year now.
When will it end, we wonder? We don’t know.
Throw on added stressors of serious partisan divide, economic worries, and the effects of isolation, in addition to just everyday life, and we are definitely in the wall.
I feel it. Some days It’s a real struggle to just answer emails or to pick up the phone — simple things that aren’t difficult yet feel as though I am lifting a 500 lb. weight. And if you just glance at me, you’ll see I’m not capable of lifting 500 pounds. In this pandemic, I’m learning what my limitations are — and there are plenty.
Our society has this idea that we’re supposed to be self-reliant, strong in body and mind, and never needing to rest or anyone to help. That we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and suck it up and go on. I’ve seen too many people live into this — not taking their full vacation time and when they do, they do work. (I’ve been guilty of that.). Not taking time off when they are sick in order to rest. And not having boundaries that say when its work time and when it is not.
I don’t think any of this is helpful and I don’t think it has served us well. And it certainly isn’t based on what God tells…