And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
The summer of 2015 I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa and highest free-standing mountain in the world. Making the decision to climb was easy, but actually climbing it another story.
At first, it was simple Here we were, our team of 11, above the clouds, talking about our faith journeys, seeing the beauty of God’s creation, and enjoying genuine community. All we had to do was take altitude medication, eat during meals, stay hydrated, and keep walking. The rules were simple. They were what we’d rely on to get to the top. Well, this is what we thought.
It took 5 days to reach the final base camp before we’d ascend to the top. As we reached this destination, our guides informed us of the reality we’d face that night. We would leave the camp at midnight to reach the top of Kili at 6:45am to watch the sunrise. We would need headlamps, multiple layers on our bodies (it would soon reach -9 degrees), water, and motivation to get to the top. This was going to be a lot different, and much more strenuous. It was to be something we hadn’t experienced all week long, and something that we couldn’t truly prepare for.
As we started the climb it was pitch black dark. Fighting the intense cold, pure exhaustion, and monotonous steps for 7 hours was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. With no one talking, we’d have to rely on positive thoughts, and most importantly, God, for this moment in our lives.
Though we might not be actually climbing mountains, our lives can sometimes seem like this journey.
As a Christian, we think we’re in the hands of good community, that we’ve followed the rules and regulations that God has set forth, but then something unexpected happens and our faith is tested. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, receiving a bad grade on something that we thought went well, or feeling a sudden isolation from friends, God has switched the circumstances on us without asking (how rude!).
But instead of complaining and asking “Why God”, we must ask ourselves, “What can I do to see the beauty in this situation and how can I be transformed by it”. And it’s hard. It’s hard not to question God’s decisions. It’s hard to understand why God puts us through hard moments, because isn’t he supposed to want only the best for his beloved?
And that’s the thing- he does it because he loves us and wants only the BEST for us! God puts us through moments like these to not only test our devotion and love for him, but to move and strengthen us in ways unimaginable.
When I reached the top of Kilimanjaro, not only did I praise God for FINALLY reaching the peak, but I cried. I cried because watching that sunrise helped me realize the inexpressible joy and unexplainable peace God brings out of hard moments. Being the God who “will uphold you with [his] righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10), who “will himself restore you and make you strong firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10), and who loves so deeply, has the power to get you through times of struggle and show you the strength you have through Christ our Lord!