Today I finished my very first solo hike! It was exhilarating! I loved every minute! Except that minute where I was lost. But, I found my way all on my own and that was so worth it! Now, I can’t wait to take on a more challenging hike. Funny thing is, I always complain on those hikes. It’s hot, I am tired, everything is sore. At times it feels like there is no way I will make it to the end. But then there’s the top of that mountain! There’s the beautiful view of a waterfall. A deer stops a minute and let’s you speak to it. Then a snake crosses your path, you get bit by a green head, find a tick or a bear pops out of the bushes. Once I even fell in quicksand! But then that moment passes and it’s the best story you ever get to tell!
That is exactly what hiking is; it’s ups and downs but so worth it! There’s peace and beauty, accomplishment, challenge, pain, fresh air, wonder and amazement. So many amazing moments, whether alone or with friends! There’s always good feelings and amazing results. You always leave with pictures, stories, memories and a general overall feeling of happiness. Often we even celebrate with wine, beer or some delicious food!
Hiking is a lot like life. So many ups and downs. So many challenges. So many beautiful moments, memories and stories. Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad but always beautiful. The bigger the challenge the more joy we have once we have conquered it. Nothing feels better than conquering a challenge! Funny how we love to avoid them at times. Sometimes they are down right painful and we can’t see the end. In life, there isn’t a map or a gps telling us how many miles we have gone and how many are left. If there were, would we always be checking instead of enjoying each step, each breath?
Once home and tucked under my warm blanket, I read a part of the story of Joseph (Genesis 40-41). Joseph was imprisoned after being sold to slavery by his brothers. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. He was betrayed by his own family. Now all alone, hurting, and wondering why they would do this to him and at the same time locked in a prison. It must have been awful! Yet, he was still praising God and doing God’ work! While in prison, he interpreted the dreams of two of the Pharoah’s close servants. 2 years later, when he’d probably already forgotten about that day, when he’d probably given up hope thousands of times, he was called by the Pharoah to interpret one of his own dreams. This directly led to him ruling the kingdom of Egypt, saving the land from starvation during famine and ultimately reuniting him with his brothers and saving his own family from famine. I love this story because it shows us a direct link between horrific trials that Joseph experiences and the better good not only of all mankind but also the lifting up of Joseph himself.
Joseph himself makes the following two statements while still in a foreign land, “God has made me forget all of my troubles…God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.” He later makes a statement to his brothers forgiving them for what they have done. He recognizes that what they meant for harm was meant to happen for good. This never ceases to amaze me. How often do we as Christians face those who hurt us and thank them for helping us become better people? How often do we realise the good that comes from our pain?
Today I realise, I’d never know true happiness if I hadn’t learned to live and be alone. If I’d never gotten divorced, I would never have known true happiness. Though I do not encourage divorce, God used it for my good.
If I gave up before I climbed to the top of the mountain, if I turned around when it got too hard, the pain would have been for nothing. I would never know the feeling of accomplishment, the beauty of what was on the other side. It’ like Dory says in Finding Nemo:
I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.
Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.
Well you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.
It must be much the same in God’s eyes. I am quite sure he does not enjoy allowing bad things to happen to us but, He recognizes the need for us to go through experiences, trials, emotions. We need all of these to know joy and accomplishment. If you don’t believe me, just watch inside out. When life gets hard, Riley blocks out sadness and replaces it with anger and fear. Eventually that is all she has left. It isn’t until sadness takes over, that joy returns to her.
“Isn’t it amazing that even in the pit of despair, we can receive the favor and care from the Lord? Our time in the pit has purpose. We just have to be patient enough to see it.” – Wendy Pope
Yes, I also did a Read Thru the Word lesson with Wendy Pope where she pointed out several reality adjustments we should take into account while going through personal trials. I’ll close with a paraphrase of her thoughts and leave them with you as they deeply resonated with me and they strongly reiterate the purpose of my post. Consider these as you face trials of your own.
- God loves me no matter what my feelings say
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
- God does not give us trials without good reason
…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (NIV)
- God is always working for our good. Although we may experience times of waiting, we should not be stagnant. There is always work to be done. Keep doing His work, while He works for our good.
“My Father is always working, and so am I.”