We just returned from a couple weeks in Hawaii visiting Hubby’s family. While there, some of us spent time on Kauai. One day we hiked the Kalalau Trail, an eleven mile trek that leads hikers to some breath-taking views along the Napali coast. Two miles into the trail, there’s a stopping point at a secluded beach. Our goal on this particular day was to find the beach.
This was the most challenging hike I’ve taken in years . . . maybe ever. But my inner-adventurer loved the challenge. Steep ups and downs on an uneven, sometimes rock-filled trail. The blazing sun made us welcome the bits of shade from overhead palm trees.
The trail made a quick ascent from the trailhead. By the half-mile point, the ocean lay far below us, all the shades of blue causing me to sigh in awe. We trekked across switchbacks. Up and down.
As demanding as this hike was, there was such beauty. Purple butterflies . . . a small orchid growing in the wild, other flowers. Palm trees and all sorts of greenery contrasted with the red dirt path our feet trod.
Just before we reached the beach, a river poured around varying-sized rocks at the mouth of the ocean. To reach the beach, we had to pick our way across these. I needed help leaping from a couple boulders, and I was thankful for the guys in our group who loaned me a hand.
The sound of crashing waves exhilarated me as we walked across hot sand. A cave on the far side of the enclosed beach offered shade and a cool placeto re-hydrate and eat snacks. I couldn’t get enough of waves colliding with a steady, solid rock a few feet from the craggy cliffs . . . large, unpredictable and frothy with salted water. God’s power comforted, even as nearby signs warned that the waves were dangerous.
This hike reminded me of life’s hard times. We trek up and down the emotional paths of uncertainty, unsure where the path is leading. We grow weary from the exertion of trying to live well in the midst of life’s hard. The sun’s heat bears down on us, sapping energy, making us sweat with weariness.
A few things that helped me succeed on this hike would also help during the difficult seasons:
- Savor the shade. When there’s a little respite from the heat, savor it. This might look like a hug and encouraging words from a friend. Anything that eases the burden of the journey.
- Seek out the beauty. I’d never seen an orchid growing in the wild before. And purple butterflies? Such small, easy-to-miss glimpses of God’s beauty. When we walk through trials, God reveals Himself to us, often in the small things. A sunset, a flower blooming out of season, an amazing vista out the car window. An unexpected act of kindness. When we’re intentional about looking for glimpses of God in the midst of the hard, we’re reminded of His faithful love. We’re reassured that we don’t walk this path alone.
- 3. Be vulnerable enough to admit when you need to rest. As we hiked back to the trailhead, the steep inclines left me gasping for breath. When my strapping young nephews were also heaving for air, I felt better about my weakness. They weren’t about to admit they needed a break, so I made myself the excuse. We stopped for drinks from our water bottles, caught our breath and walked on together. God never called us to walk through life’s hard alone. Unstopping. Soldiering on. He’s given us people to walk with us. He doesn’t expect us to be strong alone on the path. He wants us to lean on others and especially on Him.
- Celebrate the good. Sometimes it’s difficult to see any good in the middle of the hard times. When we choose to look beyond our circumstances for those God-glimpses, we receive gulps of hope. The “good” may be something very small—a shift in perspective. It may be something big. If we miss His good in our lives, our hope ebbs away, leaving us sapped and gasping for breath.
Walking the path of life’s hard stretches us beyond where we thought we would go. But, when we walk with God—and with those He’s placed in our lives—we can get through to the other side.
What about you? How do you walk-well through life’s hard? What suggestions would you add to this list for surviving life’s hard?