Summary: These walls seem to come in different forms but they do have a purpose. (1) They are there to test us. (2) Walls challenge us. (3) Walls offer us a goal to reach. A popular speaker has asked more than 100,000 Christians across the country this one que
Breaking down the Walls
“What to do When you Hit the Wall”
Jeremiah 20:7-10, 14-18, 11-12
Distance runners, those who run marathons especially often experience what is called hitting the wall. A marathon is a 26 mile run and they say it usually happens around mile 20. Your energy runs out, your legs can become numb, muscle coordination is difficult and doubt begins to set in. And you wonder, will I ever reach the finish line? One runner described hitting the wall this way. He said I felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and he was making me carry him the rest of the way. In life, all of us go through times when we seem to hit the wall. Sometimes we see it coming, many times we are caught completely off guard. Hebrews 12:1-2.
These walls seem to come in different forms but they do have a purpose. (1) They are there to test us. (2) Walls challenge us. (3) Walls offer us a goal to reach. A popular speaker has asked more than 100,000 Christians across the country this one question: is there anyone present who has never, ever been depressed? The answer: through all of his speaking engagements not one person responded. Christians get depressed too. They always have. From the writers of the scripture, even the spiritual giants of the Bible, very few people have been able to completely escape it’s effects.
Look at David, the psalmist. In Psalm 42 he wrote, “why am I so discouraged? Why am I so sad? Now you might say, well most of the spiritual leaders in the Bible never had trouble with depression did they? After you look at the OT, the easier question might be to ask which leaders didn’t struggle. If you read Numbers, chpt 11 you hear Moses cry out, “God I wish you would kill me. I can’t bear leading these people any longer. All they do is grumble about how good things were back in Egypt. Please just kill me. Remember that was Moses. Then we find Elijah. He had gone to battle with the false prophets and won the battle by calling down fire on a water logged altar and the entire altar was consumed. Following that he ran into the wilderness crying out to God, saying just kill me! I’ve had it with this business of being a prophet. Then Jonah. Jonah is a preacher. What does a preacher want more than anything. For people to respond to the message. But strangely enough Jonah preaches with such great power ane he becomes depressed afterwards. Why? Because his preaching was so successful.
Then of course we encounter Jeremiah. This is perhaps the worst case. He seems to have hit rock bottom. But at the same time, of all the OT prophets who does Jesus quote more than any other prophet? Jeremiah. Listen no man in history could have possibly served God with greater integrity in more difficult circumstances than the prophet Jeremiah. Yet this chapter shows just how depressed this man was. This book, Jeremiah sort of reads like a diary. As we read it it is like we are looking over Jeremiah’s shoulder as he writes It is as though he is not really writing to any particular audience...it is like personal thoughts between Himself and God. It was not a letter.
I think the wonderful thing about this diary we are reading is that it is actually inspired by God, it is Holy scripture. This book helps us get an answer to the question of why men and women can become depressed. Look at verse 7 again. Now this brings us to a very important question. I think the answer is obvious by now but here it is...can a believer in Christ become depressed? And if we can, how does it happen, why does it happen and what can we do? First what are the causes. For Jeremiah reason #1 was what I will call Divine Deceit. Jeremiah says God you tricked me into being a prophet and now for all these years i have preached your message and I have gotten no response at all. This is common among pastors by the way. There is a standing joke among pastors that more pastors resign on Monday mornings than any other time. Why? Because often there is no response....at least that we see. Remember Jeremiah had spent 20 years preaching to his generation...with no results...none. So he began to think/imagine that God had deceived him into doing something he wasn’t called to do.
This wasn’t the first time Jeremiah prayed a prayer like this. Earlier we hear him say, Jeremiah 15:18 (Living) Yet you have failed me in my time of need! You have let them keep right on with all their persecutions. Will they never stop hurting me? Your help is as uncertain as a seasonal mountain brook--sometimes a flood, sometimes as dry as a bone." This is what he would call Divine Deceit. Now I am not saying that God would ever deceive us. I am saying that often God’s people begin to think that God has deceived us. And if it can happen to Jeremiah it can happen to us as well. Many of us have had thoughts like this: