I enjoy taking long walks in the mornings. I live in a rural area of the Sonoran Desert I walk a loop that is over five miles along a remote dirt track. There are no houses or people. It’s quiet, a great time to think about my writing, to pray, or to listen to an audiobook.
The area where I walk is a lot of uphill and downhill with rocks, brush, and cactus. I have to watch my step or I end up with spines that go through my shoe into my foot. (Yes, that is the voice of experience speaking.)
A few days ago, I was traipsing down a hill about two miles from home when some of the rocks rolled out from under my foot. I tried to catch my balance, but the slope was steep and the terrain didn’t cooperate. I ended up turned around, upside down and sliding downhill on my back. I didn’t slide far and wasn’t really injured, although the rock poking into my shoulder blade would leave a sore spot and my scraped elbow would throb all the way home.
My first thought, as I gazed up through the Palo Verde tree above me was, “that’s an interesting view.” I picked myself up from the dirt, dusted off, picked up my phone and continued toward home. As I walked, I pondered some thoughts about why this happened. Why any difficulty happens.
Psalm 37:23 came to mind—“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” (NKJV) If God is directing my steps, wasn’t He watching where I was going? Didn’t He know those loose rocks were there? Of course, He did. Sometimes, God allows me to take a tumble. My response should not be one of anger or indignation.
I have learned over the years to always ask God what He wants me to learn when I’m going through a difficult time. Every time I ask, He is faithful to let me know the lesson he has for me. Sometimes, I don’t want to learn, but as I listen and submit to His perfect will, the instruction is always worthwhile.
This time I was reminded that God is in control, and He does watch out for me. I could have fallen in a much steeper spot or over a cliff. I wasn’t hurt, when I could have hit my head on one of those rocks. God was right there taking care of me.
I think the best thing I learn from my various trials is compassion for others. I know what it feels like to fall, and not just on that hill. II Corinthians 1:3,4 says, “…God … who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (NKJV)
Sometimes I hear of someone going through a sickness, or death, or loss, and said, “I’ve been there, I understand what they are feeling.” When this happens, I have been given a gift of knowing how to pray for that person. I can pray for that young widow who lost her husband unexpectedly. I can pray for the person who loses someone to cancer. I can take my past hurts and put that empathy to good use by praying for, or helping, someone else.
I also use these experiences in my writing. I can accurately describe what it feels like to have your world turned upside-down and end up with a rock poking in your back. When I speak, I use these illustrations to connect with people. We have all been in difficult places and my candid sharing breaks down barriers and gives common ground. This can also be done in a small circle of friends. It is a way to relate to one another and share the goodness of God.
The second thought that went through my mind after that fall was, “Thank you, Lord, that this is a remote area, and I won’t have to see an embarrassing video posted on Facebook.” See? There was a good side to that fall.