So, if you have read my column for awhile you know that I have been to Africa a couple of times on mission trips. Specifically I have been to Senegal and Gambia. Geographically, these 2 countries are pretty unique as Senegal completely surrounds the country of Gambia.

So, if you have read my column for awhile you know that I have been to Africa a couple of times on mission trips. Specifically I have been to Senegal and Gambia. Geographically, these 2 countries are pretty unique as Senegal completely surrounds the country of Gambia.

 

The area we go to is in the southwest area of Senegal so you either have to go through Gambia which means crossing the Gambian River by ferry boat, or you have to go around the entire country staying in the country of Senegal. I imagine right now many of you are looking on a map to see just what the heck I’m describing.

 

The first time I went, we left the capital city of Dakar and travelled to a town called Kaolack and spent the night. We then got up early the next morning and drove to the border of Gambia where we had to go through the border patrol and be allowed entry into Gambia. Wait several hours to get on a boat that took us on a 20 minute ride across the river then go through the border check and be allowed entry back into Senegal.

 

After that whole process we had a 2 or 3 hour drive to the town where we were staying. But, we had to be there before the town shut down for the night so we wouldn’t have to sleep in the vans along the side of the road. It was pretty tough having to go through this whole process just to get to the other side of the country.

 

The next year, the governments of Gambia and Senegal were not playing together well so the team leader thought it best that we not try to go through Gambia, so we drove around the country. This was still a long trip and we had to stay the night at a town along the way, making the journey a two day process just like going through Gambia but not facing some of the obstacles that we had the previous year.

 

So, we didn’t really save any time but we had two options – we could go through Gambia or go around it. Both choices had pros and cons and we had to make the best choice based on the information we had available.

 

So, what the heck is my point besides giving you a geography lesson on Africa? Here’s the takeaway we can learn from this and apply to the decisions we have to make in our lives. Sometimes we have to go through obstacles and sometimes we can go around them but one way or the other we have to get to the other side.

 

I know a lot of people who face health challenges like I have encountered, while other people have very different challenges and obstacles in their lives. It might be financial, personal relationships or family problems but none of us will get through this life without being presented with things we would just prefer not to deal with.

 

But, we don’t have the luxury of wishing our problems away. In one way or another we have to get through to the other side. Sometimes we do have options like driving around an obstacle in our way but more often than not you just have to go through the trial to get to the other side.

 

Life is not fair and we sometimes wonder why things are happening to us. Many turn to God for comfort and some turn away from God and blame Him for our problems. Guess what? Life happens and God is there to guide us through those trials and obstacles. But God is not a cosmic wishing well that grants us everything we want – including freeing us from going through tough times. But this much I know, God will never leave us and will never let us go through anything alone.

 

I saw this quote the other day. God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His toughest soldiers; He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles. And, a good friend of mine told me once that God never gives you more than He can handle.

 

Life’s not easy and all of us lose faith from time to time. But remember that courage is not the absence of fear but rather the ability to act in the presence of fear. We all have fears and we can’t run from them but we need to understand that God is always there whether we are going through or around our obstacles.

That’s His promise to us and trust me; He has a lot of angels on this earth that He uses when we need to feel His presence the most.

 

Kevin Wilson writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.