“From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (NRSV)
After over a year of pandemic isolation and hardship, in August of 2021, our church decided to go on a retreat to the mountains. The cases were low, the enthusiasm was high, the time was right. So we went! Oh – the view, the green, the display of majesty and might! – they gave us all such a breath of fresh air, not just for our lungs, but also for our tired and stretched souls.
We decided to go on a hike the second day, not being fully aware of the difficulty of the hike or of our numbers and the complications that were added by that (we were 135 adults with 50 kids). The first hour was good, a nice stroll through spectacular scenery, the stream of fresh water next to us, sunny skies and many smiles. Then, we went into an abrupt descent. It became muddy and dangerous, but we did not mind it. It was still the beginning, the energies were high, the cautions low. We got to a beautiful spot, took photos, and then the kids started to yawn, to want food (not just snacks), we got tired and the whole atmosphere changed.
All of a sudden the reality that we were down into the valley and had to climb back up dawned on us. So, we did the only thing that felt reasonable at the time (of course we should have known better). We followed the person with the loudest voice. This led to one of the hardest, most excruciating climbs of my life! As I am writing from the comfort of my home, I realize that it was not impossible. But back there and then, it seemed like torture. There was discouragement on all of our faces, and the complaining and crying of the kids and babies made it even harder. The climb was abrupt, muddy, dangerous, and the end was not in sight for quite a while. We had to keep going up and up, unsure if that was even the right way. Not knowing what was ahead was the hardest part. We lost hope.
But then, just when we were about to surrender to discouragement, we saw the blue of the sky again! We made it! Even though we still had quite a climb ahead, the hardship did not seem so hard anymore because we had hope! What happened next was a beautiful expression of community. When we got to the top, on that beautiful green mountain plateau, we started to cheer for every person and group that got up! I still have chills as I remember the faces and the smiles on people’s faces! We made it! We were going to be ok!
Questions to Ponder:
- Where do you feel that your heart is faint in this season? Where do you need hope?
- What are some of the promises that you can find in the Word of God specific to your situation?
- Who can you pray with or talk with about these things? You are not alone…
- Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29IxnsqOkmQ (“Way Maker” – Leeland)
Prayer of Response:
Dear God, thank you for your presence with us even when the journey gets difficult and we lose hope. I confess that sometimes I forget that you are with me, and I let discouragement take over my being. Help me remember that you are with me, and that you are not just holding my hand and making the climb possible, but you are also cheering for me. You are my Comforter and Promise Keeper. Restore my hope today, not because the context got easier, but because as I look at you, at your face, I can see the blue skies.
—Submitted by: Diana Anton
Diana was born in the fascinating lands of Transylvania and now lives in Bucharest, Romania. She serves as the new executive director of Lifesprings and her passion is to see women worldwide connected, encouraged and prepared to impact their communities with the love and peace of God. She sometimes shares about her life in Romania on her blog www.lifeonfarmroad.com.