The Matterhorn has long been a famous mountain peak, but it has been all over the news recently as it has been lit in American colors in solidarity with the rising COVID19 death toll. Straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is known for its unique shape and the difficulties it presents to climbers. In the 19th century, many of the world’s best climbers attempted to scale the Matterhorn, but few even got close (and may died in the attempt). The common belief was that the mountain was unscalable from the more famous Swiss side. The Italian side appeared significantly easier, so every climber made their attempt from the Italian side. After failing eight times to ascend Edward Wymper decided to take a second look at the Swiss side. After substantial study, he concluded that while the Swiss side looked unclimbable, it was potentially much easier than the Italian approach. Wymper concluded that the apparent un-scalability viewed from the Swiss side was an optical illusion. His theory proved correct, with him successfully scaling the Matterhorn from the Swiss side on July 14th, 1865.
It amazes me that no one had ever bothered to check out the viability of scaling the Matterhorn from the Swiss side. They simply took one glance and wrote it off as impossible. As Christians, I fear we often do the same thing. We look at problems in our lives and world and believe them to be unsolvable. Like those early mountain climbers we declare defeat before we actually check things out. There is a great example of this in Numbers 13. The people of Israel had just made it to the border of the Promised Land, and Moses sent spies to explore the land. They reported back that the land was indeed amazing, but there is a major problem. The land is inhabited by warlike people that they could never defeat. They nearly unanimously conclude they should stay out of the land. There was one spy, named Caleb, who saw things differently. Caleb did three things upon seeing a difficult task that I think all of us need to do, especially in these difficult days.
- Envision the good: Caleb saw all of the positives in the land: its great soil, its beauty, its size, and its abundance of crops. He could envision his people thriving there for generations. When you see a difficult situation don’t ask “what if I fail,” ask “what if God makes this happen?”
- Name the difficulties: Instead of just saying it is too hard, actually name the specific problems and take them to God. In verses 28-29 we see a pretty detailed account of the difficulties the people would face. Name the specific problems you will face, and pray for God’s assistance and guidance in facing them.
- Be God’s servants: Caleb declared: Let us go up at once and occupy the land, for we are well able to overcome it. Numbers 13:30. Sometimes we just need to serve God, even when it seems impossible. We do so knowing that we may not be able to accomplish the task, but that with God’s help it may well be possible.