It had been approximately four hours since we had begun our decent. My colleagues and I, who were on a service trip to Belize, initially believed that we were on our way to a relaxing afternoon of tubing. That relaxing tubing trip turned into an arduous spelunking adventure into the ancient Mayan cave called called Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM).
Although our journey into the cave began as a surprise, we eventually began to thoroughly enjoy it. In the cave we saw pottery, human remains and other artifacts that were thousands of years old. We stared in awe at cave art left there by Mayan men and woman hundreds of years before us. Little did we notice that there was something in that cave that was even more awesome. US!
We had begun our journey with fear and complaining but were now climbing, crawling and jumping as if we’d been spelunking for our entire lives. We didn’t think twice when instructed by our guide to climb a shaky century’s old ladder. We reflexively extended our hands to help the person behind us. We were in our element! I don’t know when it was but at some point during those four hours something in us had changed. We were no longer terrified; wishing that we could be safely back on our bus. Instead, we were enjoying the beauty and wonder of what was before us.
The journey out of the cave was much quicker than the journey into it. Before we knew it, we were on the bus heading back to where we would be spending the night. The bus ride was initially deafeningly loud as we all recounted our adventures in the cave. Eventually though, quiet took over. I suspect that at that moment everyone was, like me, thinking about what had just happened. How we saw a challenge, faced it (some more willingly than others), and came out the other end of it stronger, more determined and a little bit less afraid. I suspect they were also thinking about the challenges they have waiting for them back home and how after today those challenges seemed a little less scary and a little more manageable.
I like to think that my suspicion was confirmed when I looked over at my seatmate and saw a broad smile form across her face.
“What’s that big smile for?” I asked.
“Dude!” She beamed. “We spelunked!”
“We are glad for our troubles also. We know that troubles help us learn not to give up. When we have learned not to give up, it shows we have stood the test. When we have stood the test, it gives us hope” (Romans 5:3-4, New Living Version).
Jael Amador writes from New York, New York.© 2002 - 2021, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.