The woman who was telling about her trip up to the cliff dwellings didn't really like heights, but thought she was in pretty good shape for what was supposed to be a moderately demanding hike. She was doing fine, including walking along a narrow pathway on top of a mountain.
But then they reached a 32-foot-high ladder that scaled a cliff wall. She hated ladders and immediately knew she was in trouble. Others, not nearly in as good of shape as her, scrambled right up, but when it was her turn, she said to the people behind her, "I can't climb that. I'm going back." But the man closest to her (someone she hadn't known until they both went on this hike) said, "You can't go back, they locked the gate behind us. You must go forward." This wasn't very reassuring, and she felt trapped and didn't know what to do.
But then she heard these words from this same man, "Don't worry. I'm a fireman, and I'll be right behind you. If need be, I'll throw you over my shoulder and carry you up." With that encouragement, she made it up the ladder, and when she reached the top, it was this amazing view; she would never forget it and would be forever grateful she hadn't missed it.
I suppose we all need the equivalent of a firefighter right with us as we face our difficulties and struggles. There is always some obstacle or disappointment or disturbance in our lives. But there is also always one with us to guide us and encourage us and give us strength. That one, of course, is Jesus, working in us through the Spirit of God.
In Romans 5:3-6, we read, "We also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for us."
So, rejoice, take heart, be of good courage, for no matter what situation we may walk into, there is one to walk ahead of us and beside us and behind us, and, if necessary, to carry us.
Grace and Hope to you,