The Mountains Before Us


Jimmy Gilfilen

Isaiah 49:8-13

One of the things I often forget is how hard it was to travel just a hundred years ago. It currently takes me fifteen minutes to drive the seven miles between my house and my school. However, that fifteen minute drive would take almost three hours on foot, and that’s on paved roads. Even today, there are many places in the world where travel is limited because of technology or infrastructure. One such place is Gehlor in northeast India. 

Gehlor is next to a mountain range that divides people’s homes from the farms where they work. Everyday, people from the village would have to climb the steep mountain to go to work and climb it again to go home. One of these villagers was a man named Dashrath Manjhi, who was a day laborer on the other side of the mountain. Everyday, Manjhi’s wife would cross the mountain to bring him lunch and then cross back to go home. One day as she was bringing Manjhi his lunch, Manjhi’s wife fell climbing the mountain and would soon die because the closest doctor was over 35 miles away. Stricken by grief, Manjhi decided that no one should suffer the same loss as he did, so he sold all he had, bought a hammer and a chisel, and began to work.

Manjhi started to chisel away at the mountain, working from early in the morning until late in the night. At first, the villagers ridiculed him for trying to single handedly carve through a mountain with hand tools, but Manjhi continued to work. Manjhi cut away at this mountain for 22 years until he was finally able to walk from one side of the mountain to the other. His hand-carved road was over 350 feet long and 25 feet deep. The distance between his village and the doctor’s village had gone from thirty-five miles to just five.

There are many mountains that we face in our lives. Life is full of situations that we must climb over daily. Whether it’s relationships, physical or mental health, school, or work, there are so many things that seem like mountains that stand between us and where we want to go. Everyday we navigate our way through these mountains and hope that we don’t fall. It seems like we’re condemned to struggle through these difficulties every single day on our journey. However, there is good news! The mountain is being chiseled away.

I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up. -Isaiah 49:11

God never denies that there are mountains in the way. Instead, he says that he will take the mountains and turn them into a road. The very stones that rise up and seem to mock us will be turned into pavement beneath our feet. God will take the things that seem to burden us on our journey with him and transform them into blessings. It is then that we can say with Paul that we rejoice in our suffering, for we know that God’s power is demonstrated in turning mountains into highways (2 Cor. 12:9–10). Make no mistake, this process is not quick, it can take decades, but in the season of his pleasure, God will make a way for his people.

  • What is a mountain in your life right now?
  • Have you ever seen God turn a burden into a blessing?
  • Have you ever had to wait on the Lord’s timing in your life?

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