Oh my brother, are you weary
Of the roughness by the way?
Does your strength begin to fail you
and your vigor to decay?
Farther on, still go farther!
Count the milestones one by one.
Jesus will forsake you never -
It is better farther on.
I've never been a big hiker - my family doesn't tend to take "active" vacations. We do a lot of sightseeing, but hiking and camping have never made that list. So while I was Hawaii, I went on more hikes in one week than I have gone on in my entire life. One of the hikes was particularly difficult - 8 miles round trip, with lots of hills and rocks to climb; the trail also crossed the river about 6 times (I didn't step in once - I'm pretty proud of that, since I'm not known for my balance). The last 2 miles were brutal. By that time it was noon, most of the trail was in direct sunlight and it seemed like we were walking uphill for a lot longer than we had walked downhill on the way in. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, as beautiful as it was and as much as I was enjoying myself, it was hard.
I'm not particularly athletic. Actually, I'm not athletic at all. As a result, I haven't really pushed past my limits very often. Once we finally made it over the top of the hill and starting heading down toward our car, the song that I shared above came to mind. I felt weary, and the path was rough. My initial energy was most certainly gone. But there was no choice but to go farther on.
I'm quick to give up when something doesn't seem easy. I like to be comfortable and I don't like denying my desires. But the hike was such a vivid example of what perseverance looks like. It isn't easy; it isn't comfortable. It is painful, but it leads to beautiful things. And it turns out, even when it feels like there is no possible way to pick up my foot and take another step, I can do it anyway.
It's easy to sell ourselves short. It's easy to give up when the going gets tough. But may we be a people whose lives are marked by perseverance, not because it is easy, but because we are hidden with Christ and that is worth all of the pain in the world. It isn't a blind perseverance, for we are not a people without a sure hope. Indeed, we have a living hope of an inheritance in Christ that can never be taken away (1 Peter 1:3-5). Jesus will never forsake us and it is better, so much better, farther on.