Written By Eugene Seah, Singapore
A few years ago, my friend and I attempted the relatively simple Helambu Trek in Nepal without a guide. We began the trip after conducting some research and loading the maps on our phones.
The first half of the trek went smoothly. We managed to reach our scheduled rest point for each day and were continually amazed by the magnificent scenery. However, somewhere in the middle, it began to snow heavily and the treks were covered in thick snow. But in typical Nepali fashion, we were assured by a few locals en route not to worry about it, but to “just follow the footprints left behind by a pair of trekkers who have gone before you”.
Even though we were still concerned, the beautiful snow-covered landscape bolstered our spirits and we continued following in the direction of the pair’s footsteps—until their trail disappeared abruptly. I was tired and nervous, but I thought “We’ve come too far to turn back—just keep going!”
Eventually, we were out of the snow, walking along a landslide site and uncertain when we might be able to find help or whether we would make it to the end of our planned trek at all. Thankfully, we came upon a few villagers and could ask for directions. Blistered and exhausted, we gratefully took up their offer of rest and food for the night.
Recently, I found myself in a situation that reminded me of that trek in Nepal. My work had been progressing smoothly over the last few years. I was blessed at work with mentors to guide me, my career was constantly progressing, and I enjoyed learning new skills along the way.
However, one day I began to feel “lost” and uncertain of whether my career was on the right track, so I decided to look for a different job. After a period of frustration, reflection, and searching, I was offered what seemed to be my “dream job”—only for it to be deferred by unforeseen circumstances. As a result, I have been stuck in a period of unemployment and have had to seek legal help. At moments like these, I wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
My questions brought me back to the morning after the day we got lost in northern Nepal. Having been redirected and assured that we would be able to find the trail and get back on track, we set off back upwards. However, after some time, we found ourselves on all fours, grabbing onto plants, struggling to find clear footing. We began asking ourselves if we were really going in the right direction. Thankfully, we did eventually find the footprints we left behind in the snow just the day before and managed to get back on track.
Just before the trip to Nepal, I had purchased a Chris Tomlin album, and a song from the album, “The God I Know” played in my head during the trip and especially during that trek. It reminded me of our faithful, unchanging God who has shown me so much goodness and mercy throughout my life no matter how challenging my circumstances might have been. That reminder gave me the assurance to move forward and keep going when I lost my way.
This time, what David wrote in Psalm 139:7-12 came to my mind:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the winds of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Though I felt like I was enveloped in darkness as I trekked through my situation, and the agony and hopelessness was consuming—this psalm reminds me that even there my God is with me. The Lord of lords, the great I Am is our God who is never far from us and He hears our cries for help!
The past few months sure felt like being on an extended version of that Helambu trek. But I am reminded once again, both through His Word, and the encouragement and compassion of friends and family, that I have a Guide (John 14:16, 25) and a set of footsteps—His Word that never fades or fails—to encourage and lead me onward.
Are you caught in a similar situation? It may be being in a job that is weighing you down, or perhaps being in the middle of a long-running family feud, or even struggling with a sin that seems impossible to overcome. Such situations can lead to a deep sense of hopelessness and helplessness. No matter what challenges or uncertainties we’re confronted with, may we hold fast to God’s promise that even there His hand will guide us, His right hand will hold us fast (Psalm 139:10) and His rod and His staff will comfort us (Psalm 23:4b).