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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13 ESV

Last week, eight participants and I returned from a ten day wilderness program in Big Bend National Park. The crux of the program was a five day, 40-mile backpacking trip with an overnight SOLO component. I am studying the results of this program for my doctoral degree.

Returning back to the chaos of the COVID-19 epidemic was quite a shock to our system. When we left for Big Bend, the virus was in the news but only its effect on other countries was being emphasized. We returned to a full-blown pandemic with schools closed, many new regulations enforced, and predictions that things would get much worse.

The contrast was staggering. Our group had just spent five days in a wilderness setting with almost no contact with the outside world. Each of us had heard from God and found peace in Him in different ways. The world we returned to seemed surreal, and it was almost unfathomable how quickly things had changed.

Anyone who has ever been on a multi-day backpacking trip knows how precious the things we usually take for granted become. On that last day I usually find myself longing for basic modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, a hot shower, and my comfy bed at home. Our group fantasized all the way down the mountain about the lunch that was waiting for us at the lodge below. Let me tell you, a burger and fries have never tasted so good!

Hope is a powerful thing. It is amazing what we can endure when we have something to look forward to. During this crazy and momentous time in history we must remember that there is hope on the other side of COVID-19. God is doing something amazing in all the chaos and uncertainty. If we will fix our eyes on the God of hope, we can be filled with His joy and peace, knowing that this too shall pass and if you are in Christ, you have incredible blessing in this life to look forward to and immeasurable joy in the life to come. May the peace of Christ be with you all as you weather this storm! See you on the other side!

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