When I was a child, I was told the story of the Martin-Willie Handcart Pioneer Company. Because they were so anxious to leave for the west, they left a little later in the season than they should have. When they got to Wyoming, unseasonably early snowstorms hit them. Because they were traveling with handcarts rather than wagons and teams, they were overly exposed to the elements and many died under the harsh conditions.
The teacher who was recounting the story to our class told us how important it had been for the pioneers to keep walking. If they gave up and sat down in the deep snow, they froze to death. Even though I was fairly young, I was struck by how hard it must have been for them to continue walking in the deep snow and how much courage they had displayed in their adversity. I remember thinking, “I wonder if I would have kept going. Or, would I have sat down in the snow?”
I have thought about that story over the years, as I have faced trials of my own. I don’t want to sit down in the snow, even though it would be so much easier for me to do so. It is important for me to summon the courage inside of me – the grit – the moxie – the drive – to somehow keep myself moving forward, no matter how many challenges keep rolling my way.
I must admit to you that it is hard, sometimes, to keep walking. The temptation to sit down in the snow and rest awhile is overwhelming. It is difficult to keep moving forward when you feel as if the blows are coming at you from every side and you wonder when they will stop – or if they will stop at all.
If you happen to be experiencing such a situation at the moment, just let me say that you are not alone in the fight. There are others like you – many, many others, including myself – that are in the world, getting up each day, wondering how they will manage to continue and, despite the pain and the suffering they know, they keep going. They keep moving and just the act of continuing speaks volumes about them and the hope and faith and courage they own. It is the trying that is meaningful.
To keep moving under such circumstances is heroic (and actually feels heroic, as it is so difficult), and I believe that it is those people who continue the fight, despite financial, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges, that are to be admired.
Do you know what happened to the Martin-Willie Handcart Company? Word finally arrived in Salt Lake City of their terrible circumstances and a rescue party was immediately sent out to save them. They were discovered on the far side of a river and one young man, who was determined to save as many lives as possible, carried people over that river repeatedly. He ended up getting so sick that he died. He was a true hero.
The survivors of the Martin-Willie Handcart Company were strong people and their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have derived much strength from their story of endurance. In fact, their story has provided inspiration for nearly anyone who has ever heard it. They could have so easily taken the easy way out and sat down in the snow, and yet they kept moving forward with hope and faith that they would arrive at their destination.
If you happen to know someone who is facing such challenges, reach out to them. Tell them that you are hoping for them, that you are praying for them, that you love them, and that you have faith in them. And, mean it. Do pray for them. Do love them. Do have faith in them. And, do support them in any way that you can.
You never know when it will be your turn to be hip deep in snow. You never know when you will wish for a rescue party to be sent for you.
Just please, whether a rescue party arrives or whether you have to keep going with just God by your side, don’t sit down, okay? Keep moving. Just keep moving.