When I was a sophomore in college, I had some issues with the financial aid office. It’s a long story—and I will spare you the gory details. But the issue resulted in having to leave school for a bit. Basically there wasn’t enough financial aid for me to continue as a student and cover room and board. Ironically, I could afford tuition and fees on my own, and had found alternative housing, but it wasn’t possible for a student to get out of their housing contract without withdrawing from the university. Yikes. Reluctantly, I withdrew from school, and moved out. I began working full time and continued to take part time classes at a community college. I was determined to return to school and get back on track.
But it took time. I had to withdraw in December of 2002. I hoped to return the following fall. But I couldn’t. I continued to work, and save, and take a few classes. I was determined to figure out a way to return. It took time. It took hard work. It took patience. Finally after 18 months, the day had finally come. I was able to return as a student and continue on my journey to earning my degree.
When my college plans were initially derailed, I experienced grief and frustration. I cried out to God, asking him why he couldn’t save me from this frustrating situation. Why did he allow this to happen? I had worked so hard to get where I was. How could God have let this happen? While I didn’t believe God caused the situation, I knew he was capable of preventing it. And yet there I was. Packing up my things. Leaving the school I had worked so hard to get into.
As it turned out, God was working out his plan in my life, despite the disappointment I faced. He used that time in my life to introduce
me to people I otherwise would not have met. To experience things I would not have otherwise experienced. And most importantly to be changed on the inside in a way I wouldn’t have been changed otherwise.
We are not puppets on a string being guided through life by a God who calls all the shots in our life. Although he is capable, God doesn’t always intervene when things go badly (we are living that out now, right?). But God is still present in those difficult moments. And he uses those times to draw nearer to us. These are often opportunities for us to rely fully on God, when things seem to be completely out of our control.
I’m thankful for that time in my life when things were somewhat chaotic. Things didn’t go as I had planned. In fact, my plans had been completely derailed. And things were beyond my control. Yet despite all those things, the God who loves me never left my side. He continued to hear my prayers, and he walked me through and brought me to the other side.
I don’t know if you need this same reminder, but the God who created you is with you. He loves you. He walks with you—whatever you’re waking through, and he will continue to be with you regardless of the outcome. Whether things turn out as you hope—or whether you experience further disappointment—He will never leave you.
Our circumstances may change, but the love of God remains the same. His desire for us is to cling to him in the good and the bad. And we can rejoice in the fact that he is faithful, and his love is constant.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:4-7