As a high school cross-country runner, I would spend hours after school running around the school’s neighborhood or a sprawling park not too far away. Most of the area around the school was flat, easy enough for a young athlete to cover. But there were plenty of opportunities in practices and races to run up and down hills.
Of course, running up a steep hill is hard. I would lean a little forward, pace myself, and just try to get through it.
Then there were the switchbacks. This is a zig-zag shaped trail on a hill instead of a straight one. The one I remember most vividly was one that didn’t look too steep, but took so much longer to run, with the turns of the zig zag breaking the momentum. I remember my legs burning and my mind wanting to give up in this frustrating and prolonged area of the race.
Running downhill seems easy, right? But even then I had to take care. I would lean a little back, depending on how steep the hill was, to control the descent. Pacing was still important as I anticipated the next challenge or even the finish line.
What kind of hill is the challenge you are facing today?
Is it an uphill challenge? Easy to identify, seemingly endless, and quite the struggle.
Is it a switchback challenge? It’s a sneaky one. It might not seem as difficult to the outsider but is tearing you up inside.
Is it a downhill challenge? You may be past a huge difficulty, but you’re still not back to normal. Maybe you find you are still recovering from it and need to fight the momentum a bit to prevent yourself from falling.
Whatever kind of challenge it is, God is with you. I have found these verses particularly encouraging over the years as I have faced trials.
Even though the struggle is so, so hard, you will get through it.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV
It’s not for nothing
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3 ESV
God is worthy of our hope in Him
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV