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The Climb

December 13, 2015

“Estes Park, Colorado” by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) (PD Art, PD-Old-100)

In the Rocky Mountains, there are a series of peaks at the northern end of Estes Park, Colorado collectively known as Lumpy Ridge. One of the classic climbs at Lumpy Ridge is called Joy and Tribulation. Climbers who have shared their techniques, tips, and warnings for climbing this route describe it alternately as “steep,” “intimidating,” and “fantastic.”

As Christians, we understand being in the valley, as well as being on the mountain top. Psalm 23 uses the phrase “the valley of the shadow of death” to refer to any great threat or trial from famine and illness to grief at the loss of a loved one. The term “mountain top experience” refers to a profound and inspiring experience of God such as Moses’ interaction with Him on Mt. Sinai or Peter, James, and John’s witness to Christ’s Transfiguration.

Where we often encounter difficulty is the climb, the day to day grind by which we traverse from the valley to the mountain top. “Traverse” is, in fact, a climbers’ term. It means going from side to side, the better to progress upward or downward.

This is the part most Christians would prefer to do without. We garner no accolades; see no growth; experience no ecstasy. Yet this is the climb. It requires skill and tenacity, but leads to joy.

“…I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Ps. 59: 16).

Almighty God, these times weigh heavily upon us.  Many go homeless. Children’s lives are ended in the womb. Our brothers and sisters are persecuted.

Surely, it is only Your great patience that stays Your hand of judgment. We know Your power, Father, vast beyond all words. The evil we see around us is insignificant by comparison, yet enough to defeat us without Your intervention. Intervene once more for us.

We sing of Your mercy for You are our shield and our defense. We sing of our Salvation, purchased by the death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. In tribulation, we, nonetheless, hold fast to joy.



  1. All so very true Anna. Good post. Skill and tenacity you said. Great point. Skill from study and prayer, and the simply willingness to persevere. It made me think of this song, I hope you don’t mind a link. It’s one of my favorites.

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