While on our vacation to Thailand, I have decided to revisit one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. For those of you who are not familiar with the title, it is an allegory about a young woman named Much Afraid who represents a new Christian. She is led through a very difficult physical path by a Shepherd who has promised to lead her to “the High Places.” In the book, Much Afraid is not always directly accompanied by the Shepherd, but is often led by a guide whom the Shepherd appoints to her. The Shepherd promises Much Afraid that although he must leave her to go to the High Places and place her in the care of others, he will always return to her the moment she calls to him in need.
There are often times within the story that Much Afraid comes upon a situation where I as the reader know the answer but she does not. She will make the wrong decision or have momentary doubts about what the Shepherd had promised her. In those moments, I often find myself thinking, “Silly Much Afraid! You have such little faith.” But just then, Much Afraid will lift her voice and call to the Shepherd to come to her need. Unlike me, the Shepherd is not annoyed at her lack of faith or irritated that she called him away from the High Places. He fills her with love and encouraging words, and sends her on her way refreshed and renewed.
As I think about this, I marvel at what a wonderful Shepherd we have as our Father. He does not be one irritated when we doubt his promises or fall prey to a temptation. Instead, he rejoices when we call on him in our moment of weakness saying, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief,” (Mk. 9:24). He does not come to us saying, “I wish you would stop calling on me whenever you get into a bind, it’s getting old,” but instead tells us that he is always here to help remind us of what he has promised to us. We must follow him into the dessert or high up the mountain through treacherous rocks because we know that it all has a purpose. Out of each trial that we face and each doubt that we have comes stronger faith. Each time we call upon The Lord he will renew our strength. As we come to trust in this, our trials become more about relying and focussing on the joy of Christ and less about enduring suffering. The joy of The Lord is our strength! Though sorrow may last through the night, his joy always comes in the morning. (Lam. 3:24-26)
If you are struggling now with a physical, spiritual, or emotional trial, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Hinds Feet on High Places. It will not make your trial go away, but if you allow it to speak to you, I know you will find your strength renewed with the promises of God.