Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on Mars? NASA and an international team working with the HI-SEAS program recently finished up their longest simulation yet in order to determine just that. Six scientists spent 365 days in a geodesic dome on the side of a Hawaiian volcano to better understand whether or not people could really survive and be productive while stuck in a tiny, enclosed space without privacy, fresh food, or fresh air. Simulated missions, where the members were required to wear space suits, were the only times that the group was allowed to leave the dome.
While the simulation appears to have been a success—all six walked out under their own power with nary a black eye or missing tooth among them—technological advances continue to outpace the human element with regards to our understanding of how feasible a trip to Mars truly is. Simulations, like those from the HI-SEAS group, hope to provide such answers and will play a key role in helping NASA better prepare for that eventuality.
But, as mission commander Carmel Johnston described, living in the dome was a struggle at times: “It is kind of like having roommates that just are always there and you can never escape them so I’m sure some people can imagine what that is like and if you can’t then just imagine never being able to get away from anybody.” That the crew survived it, and appeared to be in good spirits by the end of their time together, bodes well for pushing the limits even further next time. Recruitment is already underway for similar experiments to begin in 2017 and 2018. But considering that any mission to the red planet could take as long as three years to complete, there’s still a great deal left to learn before the simulations can become a reality.
Deep space travel will never be a risk-free venture. However, that doesn’t mean that the potential dangers and inevitable unknowns should be taken for granted. Knowing that there will be unforeseen hazards only makes it more important to prepare well for the ones we can see. The same principle applies to our spiritual lives as well.
That we face struggles and trials in this life should never be a surprise. Jesus promised as much, and he’s not in the business of lying (John 16:33). Fortunately, he’s also not in the business of giving false hope. So when he says in that same verse that we can have peace and take heart because he’s already overcome every difficulty we’ll face, we have no reason to doubt him.
One of the primary ways that he’s already overcome those trials is through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Earlier in John 16, Jesus told the disciples that it was actually better for them that he returned to heaven rather than remain physically with them because that removed a potential barrier in his followers’ dependence on the Spirit (John 16:7). As long as Jesus was physically with them, they had a safety net of sorts and could continue to rely solely on him rather than fully embrace the calling and purpose he had for each of their lives.
God wants more for us than that, and he’s given each of us the presence and power of his Spirit so that, through him, we might be better prepared to face the trials and tribulations of this life. And while we may not know what each of those struggles will look like, all of us have a few particular sins that tend to trip us up. Have you dealt with those issues or are you simply trying to manage them?
The Spirit’s presence in our lives means that we will never again face a temptation that we are ill-equipped to deal with. So if you have any lingering sins or if there are any struggles from your past that continue to threaten your future, let God help you address them today so that you’ll be better equipped to deal with the problems you can’t see coming tomorrow. Your heavenly Father is ready to help you do just that. Are you?