Crosses in the desert

There are times in our lives when we've got to summon untapped reserves of strength, courage, and resolute endurance in the face of adversity. If we're lucky, these times are few and far between, but sometimes we face a chronic or long-term situation–terminal illness or disability in ourselves or a loved one–in which these reserves run dry.

What miracle of faith, hope, and spirit keeps people from giving up? Can we build up these reserves when times are easier? Can the love and concern of others be a well from which we draw encouragement when our own supply is low? Can we practice leaning on a higher power in times of plenty so that it seems natural when we are in want?

I believe we can…and we must.

I was touched and inspired by a recent short post from The Rev. Alexander D. MacPhail in his blog A Way Through the Wilderness. It was called “Don't Give Up.” I hope you'll read the whole piece, but it ends with these encouraging words:

The Spirit came, empowered, and sent us.  Don't give up.

Don't give up.  Don't give in.  Don't give over.

Keep going.  Keep praying.  Keep believing.  Keep hoping.  Keep loving.  Keep proclaiming.

Don't stop.  Don't ever stop.

My father says that reciting a verse from Rudyard Kipling's poem “If” over and over again was the only thing that got him through his Army Air Corps training (running with a backpack in the Arizona desert) when he was preparing for WWII combat:

…If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”…

The hymn Rock of Ages is a touchstone for me when I need to overcome fear. In my mind's eye,  I can still see the beautiful illustration for this song in a children's hymnal:  a youth with a serene expression on his face, crouched in the safety of a rock crevice while lightening and storm surround him.

What words have encouraged you in the hard parts of your life?

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