All the World's a Classroom
Patience as well as courage has its victories. By meekness under trial, no less than by boldness in enterprise, souls may be won to Christ. The Christian who manifests patience and cheerfulness under bereavement and suffering, who meets even death itself with the peace and calmness of an unwavering faith, may accomplish for the gospel more than he could have effected by a long life of faithful labor. Often when the servant of God is withdrawn from active duty, the mysterious providence which our shortsighted vision would lament is designed by God to accomplish a work that otherwise would never have been done.
Let not the follower of Christ think, when he is no longer able to labor openly and actively for God and His truth, that he has no service to render, no reward to secure. Christ’s true witnesses are never laid aside. In health and sickness, in life and death, God uses them still. When through Satan’s malice the servants of Christ have been persecuted, their active labors hindered, when they have been cast into prison, or dragged to the scaffold or to the stake, it was that truth might gain a greater triumph. As these faithful ones sealed their testimony with their blood, souls hitherto in doubt and uncertainty were convinced of the faith of Christ and took their stand courageously for Him. From the ashes of the martyrs has sprung an abundant harvest for God.
– Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles p. 465
What I wanted to do with the title is the following: “Growing Pains Joys,” but apparently WordPress doesn’t allow strikethrough characters on the title. This entry is one that I had meant to write since last summer, and if I did, it would have been titled “Growing Pains.” I’m glad I waited though, since now I can provide a revised version that resulted from a change in perspective.
If you talked to me before the year 2009 about growing up, you would find me wincing, sighing, and expressing my great reluctance to the experience. I loved being a kid and quite frankly, I got by with that attitude quite well for the first two decades of my life. On my 23rd birthday, however, I felt a sense that I needed to grow, that I could not push it aside anymore. I shared it with two dear friends I’m privileged to know, who also prayed for me and counseled me that night via the webcam.
Little did I know that the following year of my life would the hardest one, and indeed, I had to grow up in more ways than one. How can I summarize in few words the turbulent shifts of mindset that resulted from losing a father? There was a great loss of security, an impending sense of responsibility, and a huge uncertainty for the future. What will become of me and my family?
Having to go back to the US after my father’s death, to be apart from family, to work for research, and to be completely alone last summer, was the most horrible thing I had to go through thus far. There was nothing I wanted more than the companion and presence of a friend, who would just be there to…I don’t know…stare into space with me. But literally, the only companion I had was God.
I know that theoretically God’s companion should worth more than anything in the world, but I can’t pretend like I didn’t resent the fact that there was only God. The church that I attend could not provide the fellowship or the spiritual food I needed, there was no other Adventist student to have Bible studies with, and I couldn’t talk to my family that much due to the time difference. Throughout the summer though, God did teach me lessons of contentment, and the theory did became reality at last. The eloquent Mrs. White wrote,
All who are under the training of God need the quiet hour for communion with their own hearts, with nature, and with God. In them is to be revealed a life that is not in harmony with the world, its customs, or its practices; and they need to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God. We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, “Be still, and know that I am God.”—The Ministry of Healing, 58.
When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. Sometimes God has to literally strip down all other voices so that we would hear Him clearly. In the midst of tears or silence, there were precious moments last summer when I felt the presence of God drew near to me. The word that I can think of to describe these moments is ‘magical.’ Sabbaths were especially cherished, because I know by experience that the holy day is especially blessed by God. No one said anything profound at church, I wasn’t listening to any sermon online, but Sabbath afternoons felt like the time when God would visit me and let me know that He had not forgotten about me.
It was out of these experiences that I understand that there are such things as growing pains. But because of the pains, God is all the sweeter to me. Because I was growing and experiencing things unfamiliar to me before, I learned that God could be much more than what He had been to me in the past. And just for the knowledge of Him, His heart, and His character that I would understand through life experiences, I would go through and bear the pains associated with growing up.
As I was slowly getting healed from the mourning and grief from the loss, God taught me to remain in His joy regardless of life perplexities. Something I learned about growing up is that it’s not necessarily a process of getting things figured out. Rather, it’s more like a process of understanding that I can’t actually figure life out. As time goes by, it seems that life has an increasing number of unknowns. I suppose in due time they will eventually become known, and I suppose one can also term this as surrender.
I love the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 where it says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” The power of God is such that we can be in the midst of fiery trials at the present moment, yet not get scourged. I am troubled about many things, but I am not distressed. I am perplexed about many things in life, but I am not in despair. God can give peace in the midst of all my questionings.
And so for all the things that God is yet to reveal to me, for many more sides of His character that I have yet to see, I do finally embrace this process of growing up, with all its pains and joys combined.
His Word unto me is morning dew
the night’s thirst refreshed at the entrance of day
His Word unto me is hidden treasure
its hunter shares its unveiled splendor
His Word unto me is mystery
boundless searchable space not yet seen
His Word unto me is purging current
flushing the heart’s deepest well