It had been a long, busy summer with many projects and activities focused around keeping our Croatian volunteer center functioning smoothly, and my husband Paolo and I were looking forward to a relaxing vacation on the Croatian coast. It was still warm, so we decided to combine some beach time with some hiking.
The rugged climb doesn’t dissuade the determined mountain climber; he revels in the challenge. Nothing can stop him from pressing on until he reaches his goal. No adversity can cause him to turn back. When he looks at the steep cliffs ahead, he doesn’t focus on the danger but on the toeholds and narrow rock ledges that will take him to the peak. He isn’t held back by the harshness of his surroundings or the toll the climb is taking on his body; he is propelled onward and upward by the thought of triumph.
Last year, during one of our aid projects in a poor community, we met Benson, a young freelance reporter. He offered to take some professional photos for our website. On another occasion, Benson asked us for prayer regarding the hardship he had experienced for most of his life, and which still affected him in a negative way. Let me tell you his story.
“Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” Elisha’s servant asked.
The king of Aram (present-day Syria) was at war with ancient Israel and had sent an entire army to the city of Dothan to capture the prophet Elisha. They came by night, so when Elisha’s servant woke and went out early in the morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.
Have you ever noticed how some people can stay afloat when engulfed in troubles and hardships, while others sink to the bottom? What sets the swimmers apart from the sinkers? From what I’ve seen, the biggest factor seems to be faith in God’s love. When those who understand how much God loves them find themselves in over their heads, they know He won’t let them drown. So, unlike those who don’t have such faith, they don’t wear themselves out struggling just to keep their heads above water—or worse, panic and go down all the quicker. Buoyed by their faith, the swimmers can concentrate their energy on getting to solid ground.
“Miserable!” That was the only way to describe how I was feeling that day. My husband had had to travel—again!—And there I was alone with our four children. Finances were low, my health was bad, and my teenage daughter was going through a crisis. I prayed—oh, how I prayed—that Jesus would make things a little easier to bear!
Looking out my window at a grove of trees swaying in the gentle breeze, I recalled other times when Jesus had encouraged me to hold on until He could work things out.
My father had profound mental health issues which caused him, my mother, and us seven siblings much grief. I had a very unhappy childhood.
When I was two years old, I was seriously scalded by a pot of boiling water. To this day I still bear the scars over several parts of my body.
You have encountered both high mountains and deep valleys throughout your life of faith. You have at times found yourself in what seemed like a deep pit and have had to climb out and start over. At times you have wondered why you have to face the low points and the times when you fail or fall. The falls can be painful, and it requires effort to crawl out of the low places and to once again continue on your journey.
There is a story, versions of which can be found on several websites, about the world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman. It illustrates a beautiful principle about God’s grace and power, how He can take whatever we have to offer Him in this life and make it into something beautiful. I’d like to recount it for you.
In The Horse and His Boy, one of the seven novels in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, a boy named Shasta dreams of traveling to the unknown north, which turns out to include the magical land of Narnia. One night Shasta overhears the fisherman he has been led to believe is his father sell him to a noble from a neighboring kingdom. (We find out much later that Shasta had been shipwrecked as a baby and was found by the fisherman.)