Hope in the Wilderness

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us" Romans 5:2b-5.

These verses, particularly verse 3 and 4, were our theme verses for my May La Vida hiking trip. Any one who has heard some of the crazy stories from that trip can understand how fitting these verses are. But even though it may seem that suffering and perseverance were clearly applicable to our daily lives those twelve days, I found myself dwelling upon hope the most.

Psalm 25:3
The other day I opened up my Bible to Psalm 25, and read this verse: "No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame." Whenever I reflect on this past trip, I am in awe of how God provided for us, and how good he was in answering our prayers! We had good reason to have hope throughout the trip. Not only was God encouraging us towards growth through the numerous struggles we faced, He also was faithful to ensure that we were able to face those trials with joy, hope, and thankfulness for His goodness.

Often it was the little things. My co-sherpa and I were able to spend at least a little time each morning praying  before we woke the rest of the group. At the end of the trip I was amazed to reflect that God answered every request we prayed those mornings, and even the many prayers we offered up throughout the day. On the morning of the bushwhack to 1800 I prayed for good attitudes from the group. The day after I prayed the sun would come out. The next day, that we would get the stoves to work. God was faithful with every one of those prayers, and more. Even on the morning of the bushwhack, a few of the participants found two perfectly red apples left in the snow by some campers (or Santa Claus). It was those apples we later cut up and used to wake the students the morning after their two days of solo and fasting.

At one point during the trip I experienced God's goodness towards me personally, at a time when I was at my lowest morale and very discouraged. Not surprisingly, it occurred on the day of the bushwhack to 1800. In the beginning of the bushwhack we hiked up-stream in the snow for a couple hours trying to find a dry and safe way to cross the river. I took the rear, my co-sherpa and the group ahead of me. Not long into the hike I slipped and fell.  I silently picked myself up and caught up to the group, a little shaky from the rush of adrenaline, but okay. Not long after that I fell again. This time as I struggled to get back up I called out, "Hold up a second guys." But the snow swept my voice away and I watched them continue on up the hill without me. That was when I got hit with the lies, the thoughts that come when I am at my weakest: "What if they just keep going? And what if they are better off without you? They don't need you; you are just a burden to the group."

Snow in May
Thankfully I pushed those evil thoughts away, picking myself up yet again and catching up to the group. But they awakened feelings from this past semester at college- mainly the memory of a person who I had felt repeatedly ignored and rejected me, despite my continued attempts to be friendly. The memories of a thousand little hurts flooded my thoughts, and I didn't have the strength to fight back and Be Here Now anymore. But, by God's grace we stopped for a water break not ten minutes later, and my co-sherpa asked me how I was doing. "I am really upset, emotionally," I admitted. He encouraged me to talk about it, offering not only to listen, but respond with advice as well. After venting my frustrations for a little while, we stopped again, and I had the chance to have a quick conversation with one of my participants. We didn't talk about anything in particular, but somehow it put things into perspective. I decided to put those past memories and worries aside, and God was faithful; I did not dwell on them for the remainder of the trip.

It wasn't just my hiking patrol that experienced God's providence. When we returned to Base Camp, we heard many stories from the other groups where God clearly intervened and answered prayers, keeping everyone safe. We called upon the name of Jesus in our distress and we were not put to shame. Because of that we had hope, and continue to have reason to hope.

 Take heart- He is good.


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