“If God sends us on strong paths,
we are provided strong shoes.”
-Corrie Ten Boom
I love this quote. It is a comforting reminder of God’s provision when the times get tough. But the more I walk the strong and stony paths, the more I think there might be something a little lacking in the metaphor.
If we are provided strong shoes, then we can walk the strong paths confidently from the beginning. Our feet are protected, and we march into the future knowing that the Lord is giving us the strength and comfort to carry on.
At the beginning of any difficult path, though, most of us are beset with doubt, fear, and pain. We walk, but it hurts. Then, gradually, with time, we find that it hurts a little less. The stones seem less sharp, and the obstacles seem less daunting. If we stop and think about it, though, the path hasn’t gotten easier, we’ve just gotten stronger.
I don’t think it’s because the Lord has given us strong shoes, I think it’s because our bare feet, once tender and unaccustomed to the roughness, have become Hobbit-like, leathery enough to handle the terrain. God strengthens us gradually in our circumstances.
Have you ever noticed that two people can react completely differently to very similar situations? Or that one person will be overwhelmed by a small inconvenience while another can endure great hardship and keep moving? I’m convinced that it’s largely a result of the toughening process of life. To those who haven’t encountered many setbacks in life, something small like, say, car trouble, seems like a disaster of epic proportions. For someone who is accustomed to difficulty, the car trouble is an annoyance, nothing more.
Life takes practice, and each trial can, if we view it as a lesson, strengthen us and enable us to conquer great challenges, to walk stony paths with tough feet.
“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,
And sets me upon my high places…
You enlarge my steps under me,
And my feet have not slipped.”