On the first week of lock down I warned that we were in a marathon not a sprint. In any long distance run or cycle or swim (I’ve only done the run!) there is a point where you hit the wall. It is usually about two thirds of the way. The initial enthusiasm has long gone BUT the end seems a long way off. Mentally and physically you weaken. You need a second wind.
I feel that we have hit this Coronavirus wall this week. Janice and I are sensing more anxiety, sense of loneliness, frustration and stir craziness this week than we have up until now.
This is understandable. Six weeks of new rhythms of living, learning new social media skills, the intensity of families cooped up or others on their own. All of this is hard work. It stretches our mental energy. When we feel a little weaker mentally and emotionally, maybe even spiritually then we will feel a little more on edge of ourselves.
So, as a pastor, I would ask that you are gentle on yourself this week and be gentle with those you live with or even those you engage with whether my choice or work. Be patient with others… and yourself.
When you hit this wall in an endurance run, there are choices. You can just stop and go for an ice cream. All that training and the first 16 miles of your hard work? Just throw it away. Lose the purpose of it all. The medal or the t-shirt!
Or, you can dig in.
I have never competed in a full marathon but I have run long distances and have run through these walls. It is all about holding to your rhythm, not shifting too much in what you have been focused on doing.
Let us not lose our nerve now. These are life and death days. Our lives, the lives of our neighbours and the health of those doctors, nurses and cleaners in our NHS and Residential homes are all dependent on us finding some perseverance. Let us not stand outside our doors and cheer the NHS on Thursday nights and then put them in danger the rest of the week!
As Janice read from Hebrews 12: 1-3 in our Facebook Live message yesterday,
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
There is a spiritual perseverance to this for sure. Those who are the praying kind should use that gift.
However, this is a physical example that Jesus gives us. His life hit walls too. Praying in Gethsemane that God would give him a way out of the cross is a fine example of that. Jesus got up from that pleading prayer with that second wind and went to the cross, then through the victory tape of resurrection.
Jesus life is an endurance to replicate as we hear him calling us to follow him, particularly through this Coronavirus valley of the shadow.
So, be gentle. Be patent. Persevere. We can do this. Love your neighbour!