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63 || Accept the Challenge

One of the most memorable trips we took as a family was to the hill country of Texas back when our daughters were in middle school. We decided to explore a state park with a unique giant rock formation called Enchanted Rock. As we watched other hikers ascend the mount, we felt compelled to do the same. Within minutes, we were a vigorously climbing family machine, reaching the top in no time. What victory! We had proudly conquered the mountain (well it was more of a mount) and the view was breathtaking! We were able to see for miles in every direction.

Soon it began to rain, and we realized it was time to descend the amazing mount. Did I mention that Enchanted Rock is a rather large smooth rock? Somehow it was not a problem getting up, but with the rain and the steep slope, it was a big problem getting down. We took it slowly, methodically and carefully, recognizing that one little slip could send us into an injury-laden fall. We found a less-steep path on the other side of the mount, and my husband helped each of the kids as we crossed over difficult spots. We were elated when we finally touched horizontal ground.

Although the descent was rather challenging, it turned out to be a good experience. It was an opportunity for the four of us to depend on one another for support and encouragement along the way. Getting down the mount safely was truly a much sweeter victory than making it to the top.

You may find yourself struggling emotionally through the storms of life or perhaps you have experienced a disappointment or loss that has really got you down.  Just as it was necessary for us to work together and carefully make our way down the steep slopes of Enchanted Rock, so you may find that you need others to help you as you make your way back to level ground again. Just take one step at a time, day by day, hour by hour with the Lord as your guide and strength. Allow the people he has put into your life to be encouragers along the way.

We take healthy steps forward when we acknowledge we are experiencing heartbreak or disappointment or feeling blue emotionally. It hurts when our dreams die or our plans perish. When things turn out differently than we thought they would or could we may experience an emotional letdown or pain, and yet we take a positive step forward when we accept the honest fact that we are sad or down.

There will be times in our life when we may even come to a place of complete brokenness. We can be broken in our realization of our own sin or we may be broken emotionally or physically, feeling as though we are not able move in our own power and strength. Yet we must remember that throughout the Bible we see the way God used broken people for a greater plan. David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul, to name but a few, all experienced crushing low points. When we are broken and struggling, we begin to look upward and see our need for God. In Psalms, we read, “He [the Lord] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Through our poverty and brokenness, God gently begins a cleansing process, and he lovingly puts us back together again.

Admitting that we are hurting and need help takes courage, but it also leads to restoration. We don’t need to wear an “I’m Invincible” badge. Let’s be honest with how we feel and not try to candy-coat our situation or ignore our emotions. We can be authentic and real as well as courageous and strong. Cry if you need to. Find solace in God’s Word, in prayer, in journaling, and in talking with a friend, a mentor, or a counselor. Don’t try to hide your pain just because you want to give a tough-girl, I-can-handle-it image.

Now I do want to distinguish between being honest with your hurts and being a person who is continually whining and complaining about her circumstances. There is a big difference! Grumbling goes beyond telling someone about your disappointment; it moves into the category of actively and angrily retelling your story over and over again. It may include a good measure of self-pity as well, which is quite unbecoming of any woman. Helen Keller said, “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” Blind and deaf since early childhood, if anyone had an excuse to whine and complain, it was Helen Keller; yet she chose to see a life of possibilities despite her physical disabilities.

Let’s decide to steer clear of whining, complaining, and self-pity, yet on the other hand, let’s not ignore the sadness we feel. The important thing is to identify our sorrow and then begin moving forward. Grieve, yes; stay there, no. I’m reminded of David’s words in Psalm 103 as he described God’s attributes, “He redeems your life from the pit.” God is a redeeming God and He is able to redeem, restore, and bring reconciliation to even the deepest darkest pit or the most difficult emotional mountain. He may bring help in the form of a counselor or an encouraging friend, or He may bring comfort through his word.

We’ve all had pit experiences – times when we can’t seem to see a way out. Personally, I have found great encouragement from reading the words of a pit-dwelling, Old Testament prophet named Jeremiah. He is known as the “weeping prophet.” Can you believe that? Encouragement from the weeping prophet! But I think you will be encouraged too. As Jeremiah grieved, he turned his eyes from his pit toward the day-to-day faithfulness of the Lord. Notice how Jeremiah’s discouragement turns into words of hope:

 

The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.

I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.

So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.”

 

Will you dare to hope as Jeremiah did? As he grieved his loss, he also declared, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” Yes, His mercy is new and fresh each morning. My friend, as you walk through the difficult roads of life, seek God’s goodness and mercy along the way. Cry out to him for help and trust his faithfulness to get you through one day at a time.

 

A portion of this article comes from Karol’s book, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.

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