Can you imagine being by yourself, on foot, out of supplies, and 300 miles from help on Antartica? It is consider by many one of the top 10 endurance survival stories of all time. This is exactly what happened to Douglas Mawson, a 30 year old explorer from Australia in 1912-1913.
Mawson's colleague, Belgrave Ninnis had broken through an ice bridge, plunging into a deep cavern below with his sled, dogs and supplies the team needed. Mawson and Xavier Mertz, immediately turned for base, 300 miles into the Antartic tundra. By January 8, Mertz, exhausted, hypothermic, and starving, died in his sleep, leaving Mawson still more than 100 miles from base. At one point, Mawson himself fell through a thin ice bridge. However, he had tied himself to his sled which anchored himself from falling more than 14 feet. Hanging there, he contemplated giving up. His feet couldn't reach the ice walls. He was dangling in space. To climb hand over hand up the rope would be gruelling for any person in tip top shape, yet somehow Mawson dragged his disintegrating body up the rope. As he tried to pull himself onto the ice shelf, it broke, and he found himself again at the bottom of the rope, 14 feet from the top. Again he considered giving up, but determined that was too easy. One more time, hand over painful hand, he pulled his frail, exhausted, and starved body up the rope, this time managing to roll onto the ice above.
Finally, on February 8, almost two months since he had turned back, he caught sight of his base camp at Commonwealth Bay. His greatest fear though was realized as he saw the Aurora, the ship he had hoped to catch home, had left a mere five hours before!
Our text for today reminds us it's easy to give up. But if we can keep on keeping on, there is a reward for the successful. Endurance is focusing on a goal greater than the distractions we find along the way. Endurance however, isn't just about physical strength, it's also about spiritual strength. Paul told Timothy to endure his share of hardships and suffering (2 Timothy 2:3), and to endure affliction (2 Timothy 4:5). Peter admonishes us to enduring wrongful suffering (1 Peter 2:19). James tells us to endure temptations (James 1:12). Finally, Paul reminds us to endure all things (2 Timothy 2:10).
Physical endurance is based on hope. Mawson was able to push on because of hope. Spiritual endurance is also based on hope. Paul Titus to keep "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Mawson survived his ordeal. A team of six men left at Commonwealth Bay helped him recover his strength and health over the next 10 months while they waited for the Aurora to return. In the meantime he sent a message to his fiance back in Australia that read: "Deeply regret delay, only just managed to reach hut." When Mawson returned to Australia, he recieved a hero's welcome and was knighted by King George V. When Jesus returns for us, He will get the hero's welcome, and we who endure, will get a crown and robe of life.
Don't give up. Don't ever give up faith or that blessed hope!
Read more about Douglas Mawson's ordeal and adventure from National Geographic HERE.