In the fall of 2019, I enjoyed a hunting trip to Colorado and am thankful for the opportunity and experiences it provided. I’m also thankful for the mule deer that God blessed me with and I am still admiring his antlers on my wall even though the delicious steaks are long gone.

Although this trip provided many insights, one that particularly stands out involves a local guide that we met at our campsite. Isaiah is a lively native of Pagosa Springs who was raising a young family. Although our hunt was self-guided, Isaiah stopped by our campsite a few times to share insights, stories, and entertainment.

His immense knowledge of the local area and its wildlife equip him well to guide hunts of all types including elk, deer, bear, and even mountain lions. Cougars are actually his favorite quarry and these hunts require well-trained and disciplined hounds of which he has several.

On one of his visits he brought two of his dogs by for us to meet and appreciate. As Isaiah spoke about his hounds, you could hear the pride in his voice as he described their abilities and successes. He emphasized the importance of proper nutrition as well as adequate exercise and attention to their growth and health.

Bain was one of those hounds we met that Isaiah had a special affection for. Once the runt of his litter, he had now grown and matured into a highly effective animal. He was quite friendly and anxious to slobber on whomever was willing to pet him.

Isaiah explained that whenever he’s in the market for hunting dogs, he normally chooses runts. These animals, he said, have had to fight for food, existence, and respect from the moment of birth and are more likely to possess the determination and fortitude needed to persevere through difficult training as well as challenging hunts. Mature runts are less likely to give up or wimp out in the face of adversity and they are the perfect dogs for his work.

As I’ve reflected on Isiah’s comments, several truths struck me. Given the option, Bain would never have chosen to be a runt. Who wants to start at the bottom? Who wants to struggle and scrap from the very beginning in order to survive? And yet, those very obstacles prepared Bain for his eventual selection and success. Growing up as a runt enables one to endure pain, tolerate hardships, ignore minor distractions, and focus on more important outcomes.

Many times, humans who have it easy never develop the character necessary to endure difficulties and rise above challenging circumstances. Although wealth and luxury are pleasant, they do a poor job of preparing us for the trials that come everyone’s way. Many times it’s the economically, physically, or socially disadvantaged individuals who rise up and lead effectively through adversities, for they’ve already persevered through difficult tests and emerged victorious.

Typically we grouse and complain about complications, tests, or limitations that impede our progress. While it’s natural to react in such ways, Isaiah’s insight might help us grumble less and perhaps even appreciate adverse circumstances that can mentor us toward greater good if we allow them to.

In Lamentations 3:27, Jeremiah wrote that, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.” It sounds like Israel’s Jeremiah and Colorado’s Isaiah were on the same page. Bearing the yoke by enduring various trials and challenges can actually help those of us who are runts either in size, attitude, or ability to become the very individuals God chooses to use for His greatest works.

As we reflect on the trials we have faced or are facing now, let’s ask God to use them to accomplish His will and develop His character within us. Blessings, George