Life can be hard . . . even leading through puddles at times.
About five years ago, my husband, Ron, and I decided to climb Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. He had climbed it with a group of friends at the age of 26 and knew I would love it. As soon as we filled a backpack with water, fruit, and power bars, we put on our hiking boots and eagerly got started. The one thing we didnâ€™t take into consideration was our age . . . we are now both in our 50â€™s. The trail, though beautiful, is long and grueling. We passed several people who called it quits; something that hadnâ€™t crossed our minds.
A few miles up the trail, Ron joked about how much bigger the mountain now seemed, 27 years later. As we continued our climb, rocks and boulders overtook the path, some of which were wet. This made each step a challenge and more precarious. Eventually, we joked less frequently and then began to say to each other, â€œWhat in the world were we thinking?
Yet, for us, turning back wasnâ€™t an option so we pushed onward and upward. We managed our time well by stopping often to enjoy our surroundings and take lots of pictures.Â This kept our focus off our aching joints and on the purpose of our climb. Eventually, we made it to the top and then back down to our car just before dark.
We took this journey on purpose. It was a choice we made and we stuck with it, even though it became more difficult at times than anticipated. The result included some extra aches and pains, and even a bruise or two, but it also made for a great day spent together with ample reasons that made each step worthwhile.
Life is much like climbing a mountain. At times itâ€™s easy and pleasant and beautiful. Other times, not so much. The difficulty and the ease are indispensable. Both have value. We love times of refreshing and they are needed to keep us strong, but times of struggle are part of the journey as well. When we endure, they bring a lasting strength and growth to our lives.
To be rhetorical: Have you ever gone through tough times? Iâ€™m guessing you have. Things simply werenâ€™t going well, or not the way you planned, or hoped, or dreamed. Life, at least at that point, was hard. Weâ€™ve all encountered difficult situations. Some more than others. Some longer than others. Some harder and more painful than others. But none of us are exempt. Job 5:7 declares, â€œYet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.â€ How we handle these struggles makes all the difference. Do they make us stronger or bitter? Do we allow them to promote Godâ€™s will in our lives or do they cause us to stumble? Do we press on or turn back?
The most important question we should be asking ourselves is: do our difficult seasons affect our witness for God in a positive or negative light?Â Do we make a conscious effort to represent Jesus well?
Now, letâ€™s take this a step further. What happens when â€˜additional problemsâ€™ arise, on top of an already full plate or stressful situation?Â My first response is usually, â€œSeriously?â€Â Then it hits me, these setbacks are like the puddles we encountered on our hike. Hence the quote I began with: â€œLife can be hard . . . even leading throughÂ puddles at times.â€ Puddles or obstacles might hinder or slow our progress, but they are not giants. They are not insurmountable. We must keep things in perspective. Puddles are more equivalent to annoyances. When we encounter themâ€”if we want to get to the other sideâ€”we have to make up our minds to plow right through, muck and all, or to find an alternate route. Instead of getting upset at an unexpected situation, we need to figure out how to maneuver around it, fix it, or trust God to help us through. Quitting shouldnâ€™t be an option and complaining doesnâ€™t seem to help, either. Iâ€™ve learned this the hard way.
Another thing to consider, more times than not, how we handle difficult situations can affect others. It would be interesting to know how many hikers turned back because those who had gone before them said it was too hard or not worth it.
The Song of Solomon 2:15 tells us, itâ€™s â€œthe little foxes, that spoil the vines . . .â€ It seems to me that we often handle the BIG things with more endurance and faith than we do the LITTLE things. We will encounter struggles at different intervals throughout our lives. Letâ€™s not allow the puddles and occasional detours to hinder us from a productive future. May each of us climb our own mountain with great anticipation. Letâ€™s look for beauty, even in the midst of difficult situations. Letâ€™s pray for the ability to make it through and the understanding to see that God has a purpose, puddles and all.
For more beautiful photos and another great story, read the climb