When I’ve Reached My Limit


And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.” Genesis 42:36-38

         Have you ever had a “That’s it, I quit!” moment? Over the long haul, you had held your tongue, you kept functioning, you stayed civil in a strained relationship, and you weren’t even aware that you were so fragile on the inside. But then it happened. It might have even been a little thing that sent you over the edge but there was no more elastic in your spirit to assume the weight of it. You snapped.

         Jacob’s breaking point was in this part of the story. Joseph is dead. Simeon has been seized by an Egyptian ruler and imprisoned. (None of them knew that the ruler was Joseph.) Now, in order to release Simeon, they must bring back another brother, the prized child of their father. Jacob’s soul rips the rest of the way. This was his limit and he declares there is no way that he will release Benjamin to anyone’s care but his own.

         Everyone has a limit. The issues vary. The amounts of stress vary. The ways each person abdicates his hope vary. Some cry. Some erupt with strong words. Some just walk away and never look back.

         Reaching the end of my limits is emotionally and spiritually complicated. Have I been holding myself together and now find that my personal strength is gone? Or has God been holding me together but now I can’t seem to be able to find adequate grace to continue the journey? Either way, limits are felt and terror marks the moment.

         I’ve had a half dozen such junctures in my life. Some limits were God-given, bringing me to a point of failure to make different choices. Others were instructive limits, showing me that I was doing things in my own strength. The last set of limits were simply low places in my journey of obedience. I didn’t feel I had any more strength to continue. What was the cure? Getting off the treadmill, getting quiet, and spending intensive time with God.

         There is a lot in today’s devotional to ponder. For every one who is stretched thin, take stock now of what’s happening in your soul before you hit the brick wall. The ways of the soul are a complicated maze but God discloses the deep and hidden things of the dark. Light and clarity dwell with him.

Don’t let me waste my visit to a place of despair. Strengthen my faith muscles for next time. Increase my stamina through increased wisdom that only comes from You. Amen

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