But many people do hold onto it. They realize that faith is a journey, and that Christ never said it was going to be easy. Included in that faith journey is something that C.S. Lewis called the "Law of Undulations," the fact that we can experience times of highs and lows in our lives; a series of peaks and valleys - ups and downs. And yet, while we all experience these ups and downs, we can still be progressing, becoming more aware, becoming stronger, and becoming closer to God, despite our many setbacks.
In fact, ironically, along with awareness comes the possibility to more easily get lost in those troughs and let the devil snare you. You feel discouraged because you realize that it is difficult, and that you still have so much more to do. You look up and you see that you still have so much further to travel, and sometimes it may make you feel like you haven't progressed at all.
I was watching one of my favourite shows the other day, Lost, when I got to the following scene. One of the characters, Mr. Eko (who was ordained a priest before he crashed on the mysterious island), was confronted by a woman who claimed that her daughter had come back to life DURING her autopsy. The monseignor told Eko to begin the investigation to determine whether or not the case was a genuine miracle. The following dialogue took place:
Mr. Eko: Monseignor, with all due respect, I cannot do what you have asked.
Monseignor: And why not?
Mr. Eko: Because I do not believe what this woman has said.
Monseignor: *With a grin* Why do you think I chose you?
Even if we don't believe in ourselves, God believes in us. Even if we don't believe in God, God believes in us. He sees our struggles, and yet he uses those struggles to open our minds and our hearts and to show us courage, humility, and wisdom. If we refuse to trek on and live out those challenges, we will never gain more insight, or more faith. Our apparent regression can indeed still be progress.
The key is to not get discouraged, and continue to trek on, continuing to climb that mountain, knocking off minutes, and accepting all challenges along the way and taking them head on (be they steep inclines, loose rocks, or Asian tourists). Keep going. We have hope and faith that the journey is worth it, and really, when you get to the top of Grouse mountain with a brand new time and look down from the peak of Vancouver, you feel very much accomplished. I'm willing to bet that looking down to Earth from Heaven will be even better.