Hardships, a Sign of Hope
As I was walking up a long, steep street on the campus of Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico, I found myself once again complaining about the incline. I had climbed it countless times in my undergraduate experience while studying Theology, and it never got easier with time. If you have never visited the mountains of Puerto Rico, imagine walking up a 45-degree angle slope that stretches around 200 meters (650 feet). It might not seem like much, but as you walk, you feel more resistance the higher up you go. Your body feels heavier with every step. While I intellectually knew I wasn’t getting heavier, the force of gravity kept pulling me down with a vengeance. The way up is always a struggle, isn’t it? The total opposite of how it feels when you are going down. When you’re going down, your body feels lighter and gravity is on your side, allowing you to pick up speed. For that reason, it is not only easier but faster when going downhill. As I continued up the mountain, I saw the last rays of the sun setting on my house. I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and rest in my house. I thought to myself, “I’m so close.” How much I wished I did not have to walk that street, but I had no other choice for it was the only way home.
The whole way up I was just complaining. Of course I knew why it was hard, I knew how gravity worked, but I questioned in my heart why it had to be that way. While I was complaining, a thought came into my mind that changed how I looked at the situation. As I gazed at the light, exhausted, sweat running down my neck, I came to realize that my spiritual life was not much different from the situation I was in.
Jesus is our light and our resting place and we long to be close to Him. Each day we walk towards Jesus and get closer to Him; however, on this journey, we face much resistance. Sin is constantly trying to pull us down just like gravity did while I was walking up the mountain. It feels harder to go against the grain, to face resistance, to overcome sin, but that feeling doesn’t mean we’re going the wrong way. Many times that’s actually how we know we’re on the right path. Jesus says in John 16:33b, “In this world you will have trouble…” it’s a guarantee. “But take heart!” Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.”
On the other hand, sin, it’s a slippery slope that often feels fun and thrilling. Just like when you’re going downhill, you can pick up speed and face little to no resistance. It’s easy and quick. However, the farther down into the pit of sin we go, the farther we are from the Light, Jesus. So while it might seem easier in the moment, ultimately it will lead to greater pain.
So, when I was faced with the resistance of the mountain, I was able to keep going because I knew I was almost home. I came to realize that it did not matter how hard it was, this path was leading me home. Also, I was able to press on, without complaint, because the end was in sight. I chose to change my mindset to look at what was before me and focus on the prize. It’s the same with this journey of life. When we face hardships, are tempted with sin, or battle within we have to choose to shift our focus to Jesus. When you focus on the prize, your relationship with Jesus, you find new strength to press on towards Jesus despite the weight of sin. Think of Peter, he was able to walk on water, even in the midst of a storm, because he kept his eyes on Jesus. You and I can do the same. No matter the hardship, when we choose to keep our eyes on Jesus, we can overcome. Our temporary hardships will never be able to compare with the joy that awaits us when we go to heaven with Jesus. Continue to do what is right and be faithful to God until the end. Look at the reward of what is to come, not only the here and now. Only then you will be able to bear the struggles and pain of this world and reach the ultimate goal which is meeting our Savior Jesus face to face, our Light and our Resting Place.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”