The Hills Of Life
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
Many of you know that I'm a runner. On my morning run the other morning I found myself on a couple of hills that I didn't really enjoy being on. Hills are never fun. I was quickly reminded of my recent marathon training. I had a particular route that I ran regularly for all of my long runs. On this route there were a couple of extremely steep hills on the last leg of the run. Needless to say, when running 20 miles, a hill at the end of that run is something to be feared. I would find myself approaching those hills on every long run with dread. And for good reason. Each hill caused pain and suffering. They were horrible.
Near the end of my training, I remember a phrase ringing through my head on those ghastly hills. It was this: This hill is what is going to get you across the finish line. And it was true. As much as I hated running up those hills, I knew that prevailing over that incline would make me stronger.
It's the hills in life that make us stronger, isn't it? Look at what James tells us. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
The trials are difficult, sometimes they make us feel like we are completely alone, but it's quite the opposite. When we go through our trials, we are never alone. God is walking with us the entire time.
My husband Eric and I got pregnant after our first year of marriage, and it was wonderful. We were so happy. I was five months pregnant when I went in for a routine visit, and the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. Rushed to an ultrasound, we were devastated when we found out our baby had died. I delivered that tiny, precious boy. He fit in the palm of my hand. Crushed, we decided to wait a couple of years to try again. When we did, we were blessed with an absolutely uneventful pregnancy. Our little daughter, Noel, was born, and she was the light of our life.
We thought that what we experienced was just a horrible fluke–one of those things. We decided to try for another blessing. We got pregnant right away. Nothing unusual until, once again, I went in for a doctor’s appointment at 11 weeks. I had lost that baby too. I remember thinking; “I can’t go through this again, not again God.” I didn’t understand. We had two more miscarriages after that. The anger, hurt, frustration, and fear was so intense that I didn’t know what to do. I tried to press into God. I didn’t know what else to do. After the first two losses, I drank the pain away. But after the third and fourth, I had nothing left to turn to but God.
When you have nothing else but God, all you can do is turn to Him for comfort. When you have nothing left but Him, you have to make a choice; either do this in my own power or rely on the Holy Spirit to get me through every moment of pain.
God does not often cause our trials. Oh, sure, there are times when God is certainly trying to get our attention. But most of the time, our trials are in our lives because of choices we make, sin in our lives, choices others make, or simply because we live in a fallen, sinful world.
You are loved by an everlasting love. Proverbs 14:27 tells us, "In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge."
And then, when we trust that He will bring us through we receive these amazing promises:
• "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even
though you have to endure many trials for a little
while… The reward for trusting him will be the
salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6,9 NLT)
• "Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you
are going through, as if something strange were
happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these
trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering,
so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his
glory when it is revealed to all the world." (1 Peter
• "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and
trials, for we know that they help us develop
endurance." (Romans 5:3 NLT)
Praise God! Just like that hill I had to face during my training made me a stronger runner and able to finish the race, our trials in life make us stronger Christians. We have a mighty race to finish, don't we? It's not an easy one either; it's a race filled with trials, temptations, complacency, and often, the desire to give up the fight. But we don't face these trials alone. When we surrender to Him, we face them with the mighty power of Jesus Christ!
"Each time [Jesus] said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT)