The unknown and unpredictable haunt us. We spend many hours in confusion, anxiety, and tears when discerning what God’s will is for our lives. At other times, we’re hit with the most unexpected circumstances that rip our expectations apart. The difficulties we as college students face vary immensely – worries about the future, loneliness, depression, family struggles, identity crisis, financial issues, personal loss, friendship and relationship conflict, spiritual apathy or doubt – and we all face something. All in all, college can be defined as a time in which our own preconceived notions are turned upside down and the future is less hopeful.
But it is precisely because of these struggles that our college years become a pivotal time in our lives. It is in these dark places where the Lord chooses to meet with us, and there is then a sweeter fellowship with Christ that would otherwise never be found if it wasn’t for that darkness.
GOD’S TRUTH > HUMAN EMOTION
When our feelings consume us, emotions easily become truth (especially for us “feelers”). When we feel fear because we feel like there is no escape from a situation, we begin to believe there is no way out. We begin to believe that there really is no way out of our circumstances and that we are too far from saving. Satan’s lies become all the more subtle and sly when we are blinded by strong emotion.
It is in these moments, no matter how much we are inclined to believe there is no hope, that we must delve into the only truth that will never change - the Bible. No matter how severe our circumstances are, the promises God has declared remain the same. Let the beauty of God’s promises and His love overwhelm you. Fight for God’s truth over human emotion so that you might find that inexpressible and glorious joy in Christ (1 Pet. 1:8-9).
Through my search for truth, I discovered that God disciplines His children because He loves them (Heb. 12:6). My suffering is evidence that God loves me too much to leave me to my own sinful ways. I found that my future is set and secure because the Father already knows what is best for me (Rom. 8:28). There is nothing than can separate me from Christ, not even myself or my failures (Rom. 8:38). He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake me despite everyone else who does (Deut. 31:6). I know that the Father knows me intimately and has sent Jesus to suffer everything already on my behalf (1 Pet. 2:21). The list goes on and on.
FIGHT BECAUSE HE’LL GIVE YOU VICTORY
There was a point in my suffering when hearing the right Christian answers didn’t help me. I couldn’t bring myself to pray or read the Word. No matter how many times someone told me to trust in the Lord or that God is good, I could not feel these truths resonating in my heart. I was left feeling like I fighting a horrible, losing battle. But then I came across a sermon by John Piper on Desiring God, titled “Can Satan ‘Devour’ True Christians?” The next few sentences changed my perspective eternally:
Can true, born again Christians possibly be devoured by the devil? And the answer is no, because true, born again Christians always fight. They fight back. … True, born again believers have the Holy Spirit inside and embrace the Word of God that he inspired. They hear the Word, “Resist him now. Fight, because your life depends on it. I will give you the success, but you fight.” And they fight.
Before I heard this sermon, I was constantly telling God, “I can’t. I can’t fight anymore. I have no strength left. And because I have nothing left, all I can do is wait on You.” But the moment I understood that I wasn’t fighting in a lose/win battle but in a win/win battle, I was renewed. I no longer had to fight to win (that pressure was paralyzing); instead, I fought because God already secured my victory. More than anything, Satan wanted me to give up and believe that I was beaten by my sin and circumstances. Satan had almost convinced me that I was on my path to losing.
Once I understood this, I committed myself to fight. But fighting didn’t mean immediately signing up to serve in every possible avenue at my church or to attend every Bible study. Fighting meant opening my Bible and reading a Psalm. It meant talking to God about my day before I slept. It meant reevaluating my options and asking myself, “Is this commitment or activity going to help me fight?” I started small because I knew I was still very weak, but now that my perspective was different, I knew I could take steps to victory. I didn’t read the Word or pray to expect immediate answers; I read and prayed because that was evidence of me fighting. I began to trust that God would take the little faith I had to provide me with whatever He deems good in His perfect timing. And even that truth is a daily fight to believe.
WISDOM FROM DARKNESS
Everyone has his or her own defense mechanisms when going through hardships - mine is to go into complete isolation. I do this mainly because I want to protect myself from getting hurt or disappointed. But I realized the hard truth that Satan uses our defense mechanisms to prevent full restoration.
We are always in need of community and constant exposure to God’s truths, no matter how hardened or tired we’ve become of them. Don’t let your suffering make you prideful and believe that no one can help you because someone can’t understand you.
BEAUTY IN THE UNKNOWN
There is beauty in not knowing exactly where our lives are going, why certain circumstances hit, or what God may be doing. There is beauty because there is freedom - freedom in the fact that despite the unknown, we have a Father in whom we can trust wholeheartedly. We have a Father who knows and gives the utmost best to His children, and in that truth is where we find that we can embrace suffering and have hope. No matter how long or how hard the storm may be, circumstances do not destroy the truth God has promised us.
Let us encourage one another and cling to the unfailing promises the Lord gives us in the Bible. Let us strive together to be collegians marked by faith and endurance to show the world that there is something radically different about the message of Jesus Christ, that even in our uncertainty and hardship, we can always rejoice in the Lord because His spirit lives within us.
Heidi Kim is a graduate of UC San Diego and attends Cerritos Mission Church. She is currently pursuing a career in education.