Episode #07. HOPE for the Weary from a Mountaineering Crisis. Part 2

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From Today's Episode

Kelly shares her son’s harrowing rescue from a crevasse while mountaineering and how this parallels God’s hope-filled rescue of her weary heart. You’ll discover how to wrestle through judgements about your own story and receive healing from offenses and soul-wounds through intimate experiences of God’s love and presence. Includes two personal and practical applications to open your eyes to God’s faithfulness in your own life.

Key Takeaways:

*The O of H.O.P.E: Open your eyes to God’s Kingdom story.

*God is working in ways we cannot see to accomplish purposes far beyond what we can believe.

*We wrestle through judgements to see our story within God’s larger story.

*We wrestle through our story with the lens of God’s goodness and love.

*When the disappointments come, when the landscape shifts, when the bottom falls out, when we find ourselves in a dark pit, we need to remember this pit is not our home. It’s not even a campsite. It’s a place that we are going through. God’s path is always up and out, but it’s never linear and it rarely makes sense.

Today's Verses
  • 2 Cor 4:16-18
  • 2 Kings 6:17-18
  • Zech 4:6
  • Ps 46:10
  • Romans 8:28
  • Deut 31:8
  • Ps 27:13-14
  • John 16:33
  • Isa 46:9-10
Additional Resources

Ep 07: HOPE for the Weary from a Mountaineering Crisis

Welcome to the Unshakable Hope Podcast, where real life intersects redeeming love. I’m Kelly Hall and this is where we wrestle through faith questions such as, how do I trust God’s heart when his ways and delays are breaking mine? How can I believe God is good when life doesn’t seem good? My prayers that God would renew our hope in these conversations and that each of us would experience the very real power of his presence and love.

Welcome to part two of a four-part series on Hope for the Weary. In each of these four podcasts, we’re exploring the question, how do I hold on to hope when I’m feeling weary and worn out? One thing I’ve realized as I’ve followed the Lord through three decades of ongoing loss and heartache is that the question at the deepest core of my own faith journey is how do I trust God’s heart when his ways and delays keep breaking mine? In each of these episodes, I’m just sharing some very practical and personal ways. God has spoken to me through His word and his spirit, and these things have anchored me more firmly to him, more firmly to our living hope.

So I’m teaching from the acronym Hope, the H of Hope is unfolded in episode six. Hope for the weary from a boat accident, and that’s part one there I talk about the H of Hope. It stands for hold tight to God’s Word. So we hold tight to his word until his voice is louder than our circumstances, and his love is larger than our fears.

And our prayer becomes, Lord, be louder and larger than what we see or feel. In that episode, I explain part of our family’s early story and how God taught me something about hope from that crazy time, I ran over my poor husband with a ski boat.

Today in part two, HOPE for the weary from a mountaineering crisis. We’re diving into the O of Hope. Open our eyes to God’s Kingdom story. So we’re talking about learning to see our smaller personal story through the lens of God’s much larger story, and we’re gonna discover how this kind of eternal perspective transforms our weary hearts into hearts that are full of hope and trust in God.

So first of all, I just wanna share with you where this prayer came from. Megan, one of our daughters was 13, so this was a long time ago. We had moved again. She was in middle school. She was struggling and it was hard to watch. She was depressed. She was angry about moving. She was angry about being deaf. She was hurt by the rejection she was experiencing, and every night I’d hear her crying and praying for God to just give her a friend. I tried to talk to her. But I could not seem to reach that wounded part of her heart, and I prayed, God, I’ve tried everything. I am broken. I need you to speak to me about this.

I need your help. I was a little surprised by the half joking prayer that flew outta my mouth, but God loves it when we’re honest. So I said, you know, God, I am tired of always having to believe you to do impossible things. I’d love it if for just one day, the biggest thing I needed to believe you for was a good parking space at Walmart, but that’s okay.

I pointed to my open Bible and I said, God, I need you to show me where you did something impossible. I mean, [00:04:00] that’s basically the whole Bible, right? But I was asking God to highlight a story that was just for me in this moment, in my struggle for Megan. I flipped through my Bible and this particular story was highlighted by the Lord.

It’s in the Book of Second Kings. It’s chapter six. We discovered that the king of Syria was at war with Israel, but God miraculously reveals every single military strategy of the Syrians to Elisha and he warns the King of Israel. So eventually the King of Syria is getting suspicious and he tries to figure out who among his, advisors is the spy.

But his, people explain there isn’t a spy God is telling Elisha even the plans you make in secret in your bedroom. The king gathers up his army. He hunts him down. He surrounds the city where he lives. And in the morning, Elisha’s servant walks outside and he is terrified to discover that they’re surrounded by this dangerous enemy. And he runs inside and says, what are we gonna do? But in verse 16 and 17, Elisha says, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

This moment always makes me laugh. I can just picture the other guy’s wide-eyed confusion. “Um, is this some kind of special prophet math? Because there’s two of us in here and hundreds of them out there, and I don’t know if you noticed, but they have weapons.”

Here’s Elijah’s prayer. “Oh Lord. Open his eyes so he may see.” And then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elijah, it’s such a powerful moment. Everything changed for this guy right then and there. But, and this is so important for us to understand what actually changed, did the actual reality of the story change?

No, the enemy army was out there and God’s army was out there. What changed was what he saw. Suddenly the servant was seeing what was unseen. He suddenly saw that God was really working for them, fighting for them, fighting on their behalf. He saw what was happening in the spiritual realm, and so his whole perception of the story changed.

He saw the reality that the Most High God was with them. And for them he was their defender. He was their deliverer. He was fighting for them, and his army had chariots of fire. Can’t imagine what that was like, but I just bet he was no longer afraid. And as this story landed on my heart, God also brought to mind Zechariah 4:6 which says, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord.

My heart was so filled with confidence and I thought, God, we’re not at the mercy of our circumstances. The battle is the Lords! God, you are the one who’s gonna do the fighting. You’re the one who’s fighting for Megan’s heart. You’ve got her, you know how to speak to her in a way she can hear you. You will rescue her heart.

God had met me and my heart was transformed. This is what happens at times like that. We discover that God is always working in ways we cannot see to accomplish purposes beyond what we can even believe. He is with us and for us in all his love and power at all times. When God opens our eyes to see what’s unseen, suddenly we see the here and now against the backdrop of eternity, and we see God’s glory covering our whole story. It changes our perception. It changes our perspective, so that’s why this became my prayer. During times when I was weary of waiting for a breakthrough, I would pray, God, open my eyes to see what you’re up to. I need to be encouraged. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything happen.

My daughter, Jenna, picked up on this as a teenager, and she would just say, “Mom, let’s just pray right now that God would open our eyes to show us what he’s up to. God open our eyes to see your kingdom story.”

So this brings us to our key verse, and this is my favorite eternal perspective verse. It’s 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Therefore, we do not lose heart though outwardly, we are wasting away yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen for what is seen as temporary.

I love this scripture because it’s just reminding us to take heart, to gather up our courage. God is saying, I am weaving the beauty of my love and purpose into the fabric of every single part of your story. I am working in every area that concerns your heart, and when we realize this, it reorients our thinking.

It refocus our mind, and it helps us see the here and now against the reality of God’s heart of love. We discover that God is always working in ways we cannot see to accomplish purposes beyond what we can believe. And this is a very practical truth.

The reason this prayer helps us is because it takes a long time to see a mountain moved. It takes a long time to see breakthrough. Sometimes it happens immediately, but it’s rare that we see the Red Sea parted right in front of our eyes. Usually our breakthroughs are made up of hundreds of tiny little shifts building upon one another. You know, we see God shift somebody’s heart just a little bit. And this is a powerful way God builds our hope. When we look for his goodness, when we look for his hand at work, he will open our eyes to show us what He’s up to, and we see the reality of His much larger story. We begin to notice a word or a tone that’s changing. We’re aware that something is shifting in those we love.

Something is changing within ourselves. We notice there’s a little more trust, a little less white-knuckling. There’s a little more love and a little less fear. We might notice that there’s a little more hope instead of someone always going to hopeless, worst case scenarios. These are ways God builds our hope and fills us with his joy and trust.

It’s a powerful thing, and I have prayed it, I can’t even tell you, hundreds of times over the years because we live in a very long story and our family story remains unresolved. God, show me what you’re up to. Open my eyes to see your hand at work.

So now we’re gonna jump into David’s mountaineering crisis. Last time I told you a story that involved my son David as well. This is many, many years later. This is a summer before our son completed his last semester in college. He spent 40 days in the wilderness with a Christian adventure group in Wyoming.

He would earn a minor in outdoor leadership through this experience. Plus he would receive his wilderness outdoor first responder certification. There were three parts to this adventure. The first part was rock climbing. The second part was backpacking with 70 pound packs, hiking 10 miles at least a day deep into the wilderness, and then mountaineering came last.

This was the hardest, coldest, most grueling part of their journey. They would be wet and cold for days, and it was dangerous because crevasses split these mountains. Some of these crevasses were about 150 feet deep. A crevasse, which is different from a crevice, is a deep wedge-shaped opening in the moving mass of ice, which are the glaciers that are on the mountains.

They’re about to begin the mountaineering portion and they’re going through some education, and what they were told was the best mountaineers are not the strongest. They’re not the ones with the best equipment. They’re not even the ones with more experience. The best mountaineers are the ones who know how to suffer well. They know how to keep going when the going gets tough. They know. It’s gonna hurt. They know it’s gonna be hard. They’re gonna be cold, uncomfortable, and exhausted, but they don’t entertain thoughts of quitting. They keep their mind focused. They pushed through. They see the suffering of the here and now against the backdrop of their goal. They will arrive at the finish line, so they fix their eyes on what’s unseen.

As David and his team were descending, David had helped others across this ice bridge that spanned a crevasse. And then they, proceeded further down the mountain. David and the one other guy were left, and as they were getting ready to leave, suddenly the ice bridge David was sitting on collapses. He fell 25 feet into a crevasse.

David immediately grabbed the rope below his harness and yanked it upwards. This should have stopped his fall, but it didn’t even slow him down. He had no idea why or how to stop it. When he finally did stop falling, he was hanging in a severe back bend. His head and feet both pointing downward due to the 70 pound pack on his back.

He was able to grab the rope and pull himself upright. He was terrified and praying for God’s rescue, but he assessed his situation. What do I know right now that’s true?  My rope is securely attached to my friend at the top of this hole. My harness is securely attached to me. My rope and my equipment are in good condition. They’re not gonna fail. I’m not gonna fall any further. He looked up. He focused on the sunlight at the top of the crevasse and said, that’s where I’m going, and he started to climb.

The ice was smooth and slippery. He struggled to get a good hold. He couldn’t climb it, but because it was narrow, it was a narrow opening, he was able to pull his knees up, press his back into the wall, plant his feet with the crampons on the opposite wall and slowly inch himself upward. He was struggling to make much progress. He had to take his gloves off to get a better finger hold to help with the climb up.

This whole time, David refused to look down into that bottomless darkness. He refused to entertain worst case scenarios. He knew there was nothing that could steal his courage faster than that. Finally, he made it close enough to the top for his friend to grab his arms. But his friend couldn’t pull him out, and they didn’t know what was wrong.

Finally, they realized the rope was stuck. That’s why he had kept falling. The rope had cut into the edge of the crevasse and was buried deep into the ice. This was the worst moment of the entire ordeal. David had to let go of his friend and let [00:17:00] himself slide back down into that hole.

This was where the mental struggle got worse. He couldn’t do anything but wait.. He hung helpless in the harness, exhausted, wet, cold. His hands were numb. He was struggling to take a big breath because of the weight of the pack, and he was praying. Eventually the rope was freed and. David once again began to inch his way up to the top. His friend grabbed his arms and I think he catapulted out of that hole faster than they could have imagined, and then he lay on the ice gasping for air.

Once David had caught his breath and feeling had returned to his fingers, they headed back down to join their team. The team still had no idea what had transpired or what was taking them so long. When David and his friends were finally both safe with the team, they both started sobbing.

Cortisol and all the anxiety and stress finally left their bodies. So David explained what had happened. And one of the guys said, that reminds me of that verse: for he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands so you will not strike your foot against a stone.

At that moment, God opened David’s eyes to see what was unseen. He suddenly realized that was exactly what he’d experienced in the crevasse when he was climbing up the second time. There was a presence with him. Someone was lifting him, helping him, rescuing him.

When we picked David up in Wyoming after the 40 days in the wilderness, we knew nothing about what had happened. But as he began to open up that story to us, the coolest thing was when I realized that at the same time, David had experienced all this, I was actually praying Psalm 91 daily. I would often pray, Lord, protect him and protect the whole team. Command your angels to guard David so they will lift him up in their hands and he wouldn’t even strike his foot on a stone. God opened our eyes to see all the unseen ways that he had been working. We were completely amazed in this story, this story of God’s faithfulness in and through this whole entire experience, it marked and transformed David in mighty ways and us too.

There were so many ways when there would be difficulties and we would think back to this moment, God is faithful. We can trust him, He is always at work. There are always unseen things happening. He is protecting us. And God’s protection in this story had gone even further than this. Actually when David was at the top of the mountain, just before they were gonna descend, He had told one of the guides, I’ll carry that extra backpack.

Somebody was struggling. So there were two backpacks and David said, oh, I’ll take it. It’s no big deal. But for some reason he didn’t ever put it on. If he had put it on, he would’ve been in that crevasse with 140 pounds on his back instead of just 70. God protected him. It is so cool and exciting when God opens our eyes to see what he’s up to.

If we could just look into the spiritual realm, we would be [00:21:00] stunned at the myriad of ways that God protects us and is fighting for us and is with us and is moving in our lives to orchestrate things and to help us. He loves us, and when he opens our eyes, we discover his faithfulness. We experience his faithfulness.

It’s so powerful when we pray. God open my eyes to see what you’re up to. I need to know you. I need to understand that you were on the move in every area that concerns my heart. I’m weary. I can’t see you. I’m discouraged. I need you to open my eyes to see what’s happening. But here’s my question.

What is at the very core of our being that stands in the way of having our eyes opened to see what’s going on? Here’s what God showed me a few years ago. We had a friend over for dinner. He works in international ministry, and during dinner he turned to my husband Lee and asked him, what is your spiritual gift?

He knew Lee was a gifted leader and teacher, but without skipping a beat, Lee immediately replied, “Judgment.” The room filled with laughter. But isn’t that where we all go? That’s where we tend to go when the disappointments are piling up, when our hearts are wounded by ongoing loss, we get so judgey.

We judge our stories. This story stinks. I think I could write a better story than this. We judge God’s heart. I feel abandoned by you. God, how could you let this happen? Weren’t you paying attention? We also judge ourselves, and this is so subtle, but we wonder, is this my fault? Is God punishing me? Is God disappointed with me? And those are lies, and the point is,.

How does God rescue our hearts from these places? I have learned that it’s absolutely impossible to see with God’s eyes unless we wrestle through our own judgments so that we can see our story within God’s much larger story The other thing that happens is when we wrestle through our judgments, we’re able to see our story through the lens of God’s goodness and love.

This is what helps us see differently. I’m just gonna share with you a really simple example of how this happened in my own life. We had just moved to San Antonio. We were living on Randolph Air Force Base. It was the beginning of the summer. We knew we’d be moving again in two years.

And here’s how it works in the military. You just immediately get involved. You immediately start making friends. You know you’re not gonna be there long, so you don’t have time to waste. We visited a church. I signed our two older kids up to go to their high school camp, which was scheduled to leave the next week.

I received a call about three days into the camp to inform me that our daughter’s cochlear implant had broken. She couldn’t hear anything and her speech gets significantly worse when she can’t hear, so people struggled to understand her.

No one knew her, and my heart was just broken. I didn’t know what to do. We had sent along spare parts. She was trying to make it work, but it wasn’t looking very hopeful and to make matters worse, believe it or not, this was the second time her implant had broken while on a church youth group trip.

It was really hurtful for me. I was waiting for a return phone call so that we could work through some solutions, and I walked outside to pray. Remember, we’ve learned that it’s impossible to hear God’s heart unless we wrestle honestly through our hurts and our confusion with him.

And I just said, God, this doesn’t make any sense. Our sweet daughter has suffered so much rejection. She struggles so much to be accepted. I plan this whole thing so she can make some friends. Here’s some good biblical teaching and none of that is gonna happen.

Why in the world would you do this? I am so hurt. I need you to talk to me about this. It just seems like you’re neglecting her. It seems like you’re not paying attention. God, I know you’re good. I know you love her. I know this didn’t take you by surprise, but I can’t sort through this and I need you to help me see differently.

Tears were just running down my face as my heart broke wide open for another disappointment on top of so many other hard things. And at that moment, God spoke to me and he just said, I’m so much bigger than this Kelly. I’m so much bigger than this. It’s not just the words he spoke, but it’s how he met me.

He poured the truth of his love into me. Somehow he expanded my soul to receive the purity and the greatness and the beauty of his goodness and love. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced.

The whole moment reminded me of Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. I knew things in that moment about God’s heart that I’d never be able to describe. God transformed me and in that moment, in the overflow and the outpouring of his love, he healed my wounded, offended heart. He helped me see my story through the lens of his goodness and indescribable love.

He didn’t explain himself. He didn’t tell me how it was all gonna work out, but I knew in ways I can’t even explain that God was with her, that he was loving her, that he was loving me, that he was working in ways we couldn’t see to accomplish purposes far beyond what we could believe. He knew how to speak to her in a way she could hear him.

He didn’t need my plans to make things work for her. She was safe in his hands. I could trust him. I could trust him.

Warren Weirsbe says, “When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God, but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is. We need to recover our lost perspective on life. Things get out of proportion when we’re suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.”

This is exactly what we’re talking about in 2 Corinthians 4. We need to recover our lost perspective on life because when we’re suffering, we can’t see clearly. That’s also what we learn in the description of the mountaineers. The people who are the best at [00:31:00] mountaineering are the ones who suffer well.

They’re people who are able to look beyond what they’re suffering and see a picture of something bigger than themselves. God always has a purpose in everything we walk through. This is one of the things that comforts my husband’s and my heart more than anything else: God does not waste our pain.

And that’s what it says in Romans 8:28 too. And we know that in all things, God is working for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

I wonder if we are people who know how to suffer well, but that’s what happens when we ask God to open our eyes to see what he’s up to. It gives us the courage and the perspective and the purpose to push through everything we’re going through. We know that God is [00:32:00] with us and that he hasn’t left us, and that he is working all things together for good.

There are two things I’ve learned that have encouraged my heart, that have helped me cultivate hope when I’m weary.

The main thing is to remember all the ways God has been faithful to us, to remember and rehearse stories of God’s faithfulness. I would encourage you just to set aside some time. I promise you it’ll be one of the most encouraging things you’ve ever done. I love to just sit with my journal and pray: God, remind me of the ways that you have been faithful to us. Open my eyes to see what you’ve done. When we remember God’s faithfulness in the past, it enables us to trust his heart in our present.

I wanna just show you some of the ways God opened our eyes to see what he was doing with our oldest daughter at that Christian camp. It was actually held in Nacodoches, Texas where my parents lived. So even though it was five hours away from us, she was only about 10 minutes away from my parents, they were able spend the whole day with her.

They offered to let her come stay with them, but later her implant miraculously started working so she finished out the camp and actually enjoyed her time. As I look at that story, I just see what God does so often.

He sustains us with his many kindnesses and love,

Let’s look at David’s story.

God opened our eyes to see the unseen ways he was working, his glory and faithfulness in and through every part of David’s story. That experience marked and transformed David’s heart a few years later when he’d lost his job and some ways that were hurtful and disappointing, and he was searching for a new job.

He frequently rehearsed that story of how God miraculously provided for him, how he had lifted him up in that crevasse, how he had protected him,

Every time he did, it would fill his heart with hope and it would help him surrender his fear and trust God for his provisions.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18:Therefore, we don’t lose heart though outwardly, we are wasting away yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen for what is seen as temporary. But what is unseen is eternal.

When the disappointments come, when the landscape shifts, when the bottom falls out, when we find ourselves in a dark pit, we need to remember this pit is not our home. It’s not even a campsite. It’s a place that we are going through. God’s path is always up and out, but it’s never linear and it rarely makes sense. We’ll always encounter delays, detours, and ditches. Jesus says, I have told you these things so that in me you would have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I’ve overcome the world.

So in both those verses, we’re encouraged to take heart, to gather up our courage, to fix our eyes on things that are unseen. God has not abandoned us. We are never alone.

I would encourage you to spend some time with the Lord and make a list of the truths that anchor you more firmly to God’s heart. Every time a big disappointment hits me, the first thing I do is say, what do I know that’s true?

So I just wanna close with some of my favorite anchor points. . You are God and there is no other. You are God and there is no one like you. Isaiah 46:9-10. Lord, you are sovereign. You are completely in charge of all things. Nothing and no one can stand in the way of your good plans and purposes being accomplished. And I know that even in this hard thing, you are supernaturally working to bring good out of it because you tell us that in all things, you work for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose.

And Psalm 27:13 and 14, Lord I am convinced that I will see your goodness in the land of the living, even in this hard place. I know. I’m gonna see your goodness. So I’ll wait for you, Lord. I’ll be strong and I’ll take courage and I’ll wait for you. And I just wanna close with my favorite scripture and my favorite declaration that God has given me out of this verse.

Deuteronomy 31 8. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged.

Lord, you are with me and for me in all your sea splitting wonder, working giant, slaying water, walking, sun, stopping obstacle, demolishing, mountain moving death, defying power and love at all times.

Amen. God, open our eyes so we will see what you’re up to. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Thanks for listening to the Unshakable Hope podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe and leave a review. To continue the conversation and for free resources, be sure to visit me@kellyhall.org. Thanks so much.

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