My wife and I have just enjoyed a short break, which included a two-night stay in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh is hilly and since suffering a stroke two years ago Hazel uses a wheelchair. To be honest I thought we were doing well when we found a disabled parking space near Princess Street and managed a wee ‘walk’ together along a flat path in the gardens there.

Then she hiked her battery-powered chair up to maximum speed and set off up ‘the Mound’, negotiating the steep footpath and pedestrian crossing and not stopping until she reached the corner of ‘the Royal Mile’.  Even then, she was not satisfied until she had scythed the narrow way up through the other tourists and made it to the Castle Esplanade. What a woman!

A couple of years ago our horizons had radically narrowed overnight. I wondered if we would ever travel again.

I have been on a learning curve in many ways, not least in trying to practice what I preach, that every challenge also brings opportunity. It could be an occasion for despair or another chance to exercise faith, courage and determination.

Tentatively, I confess, and quite desperately at times, I am choosing the faith route and on days like the one I have described the rewards are wonderful.

To be sure, at times circumstances can make life look and feel grim. Recently in church, we have been considering how the end of the New Testament book of Acts might look at first like failure and defeat. Paul, pioneer missionary, leading evangelist and church-planter is detained indefinitely in Rome. Persecution is spreading. An occasion for gloomy despair surely?

Actually, during this prolonged stay at the Emperor’s pleasure the Apostle is inspired to write the Epistles of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, letters to congregations that would be treasured, preserved and included in Scripture for generations of believers still to come.

Christians worldwide today can be encouraged to read that ‘we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2v10)

Or… ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4v12-13)

Or… what about, ‘He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins’? (Colossians 1v13-14)

Wonderful words, comforting and motivating for millions of people throughout the ages!

Some day you may be hit with something unpleasant and unwelcome and there is no doubt it will be a challenge. It would be easy to wallow in self-pity and allow the negativity to win. That is a real temptation for us all.

But today, however challenging, is also a day we’ve been given another chance to trust, to give thanks, to see beyond, to push back the boundaries and to claim new horizons.

To God be thanks and glory.

Andrew Watson is a Minister of Cairncastle Presbyterian Church.

Please note that the statements and views expressed in this article of those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.