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 (Manna 49: After God's Heart)
The Lord Is Always with Me
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The Lord Is Always with Me

Dih-Yih Chen — Grenada

This testimony is something I’ve been working on for a few years. I recently turned thirty-one, and when you turn thirty-one, you want to look back on your life and consider the roads you’ve taken, and how you’ve changed over the course of that time.

I finally realized in a big way that I had become a full-fledged adult when I turned thirty. We may be legal adults at eighteen, but we are still children living in our parents’ house and we don’t have that much responsibility. In our twenties, we start living on our own and we tread the waters to get a feel of what it’s like to be independent.

But for many people in this day and age, it’s only when we turn thirty that we start to know the reality of full independence: we are no longer dependent on our parents. This can be quite a daunting epiphany.

Having said all this, my reflections are not about my physical life but about my spiritual life, and I feel the same aforementioned sentiments for the latter as I do for the former, because we have to grow up spiritually for our faith to also gain the same independence.

My Doubts Set In

After I graduated from college, I had a lot of time to feel depressed because I was done with classes and had no job offers. But God provided an opportunity for me to go to Philadelphia to further my studies and I was truly grateful.

When I got there, I offered myself completely to Him and threw myself into all aspects of church work, which boosted my faith. I really touched God in those days and He showed His magnificence and glory to me. So I carried that faith with me until I finished grad school.

After I graduated I found a job in Philadelphia, which allowed me to stay behind and to continue serving God. I thought I would do that for a couple of years and then apply to medical school, but I got rejected from every school during the first round of application. I thought to myself, “So this is just the way things are.” It destroyed my confidence but it didn’t ruin my faith.

I kept on working and went through a second round of med school applications, then a third round, after which my faith also began to crumble. At the same time, I felt that I was stagnating at work and really held back because there were so many things I couldn’t control.

For example, either my boss didn’t pay much attention to me or their references in the process of my medical school application kept getting lost. Things kept dragging on and on and I began to question: “Isn’t God responsible for all these, and isn’t He responsible for making sure that these things wouldn’t happen? Isn’t He supposed to help us with the little things that are out of our control?”

I started to question God, and at the same time I looked at all my friends and saw how their careers were taking off and how they were slowly building a family and succeeding in society. And here I was—stuck in a mundane job and doing my best to excel yet feeling that something was keeping me back in everything I do. I began to seriously doubt God.

That’s when I realized my faith was changing and the questions kept on firing: “Why is this happening to me? Does God still love me? Did I do something to displease Him?” I couldn’t find any answer. And if He doesn’t help me, why am I working so hard in church? Is it even worth it to keep the Sabbath?

When these thoughts started to pop into my head, it shocked me because I’ve never sunk to that level before, and that started me thinking. I questioned what my faith was based on, and fortunately for me, even though I had become weary of continuing with church work, the process of doing it was what kept my faith afloat and not sink completely.

Doing church work forced me to do more Bible reading and to meditate on God’s word more than I would’ve on my own, and it was through this that I was able to come up with some conclusions that helped me get through this rough patch in my life.

So what did I learn?

Point of Peace

I used to think that God will answer whatever it is I pray about or ask for, but I think there is a more important aspect to this—that God blesses us with all things because He loves us. We ask because we are His children but it is up to God’s decision whether He blesses us according to our prayers or not. It depends on His blessings and His time.

God is not like an ATM machine, where you punch in the numbers and the money rolls out. He is much more than that. Without lowering His status, He came in human form and He wants us to develop a relationship with Him. He has feelings. If we take Him for granted, like when I expected an immediate response in prayer, it hurts Him.

This opened me up to an aspect of God that I did not see before. I realized that God blesses me according to what I need, but I had to wait this time. Sometimes, He blesses us with steaks and sometimes with cabbage, and we need both in our lives. When I understood this—that there really is a purpose to my suffering—I also understood that it won’t be forever.

One of the verses that came to me and helped me put things into perspective is  the account of how God took away King Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity and made him live like an animal (Dan 4:34-37).

When I read this story, I began to see what King Nebuchadnezzar must’ve seen—that God is almighty, and within His hand is the authority to give and to restrain.

Who are we to question His motive, why He does this or that, or why He withholds His blessings from us but lavishes them on others? They don’t go to church, they are not as holy, and they don’t obey God’s commandments like we do. We cannot question Him because He is far beyond our understanding.

God did not allow me to continue on this path of downward spiral and failure, and there was a point of peace where I was able to look back, reflect, and glorify Him.

Awaiting His Reveal

After some reflection, I feel very ashamed that I felt so much anger and resentment towards God when I thought He had completely ignored and left me. But the truth is that He was always there. That was a period of time for me to grow and to realize that I cannot be a child forever.

I began to see God in a different light. When we are children, we look to our father as the provider for whatever we ask and need. Now, when we grow up, our father is still our provider, but he is also our educator and the one who helps us grow and mature.

Likewise, while we are young, God is our heavenly Father who gives us what we ask because we need those blessings to grow. But when we mature, He adjusts His role and His blessings.

Thank God, I eventually went on to med school and He provided me with that opportunity in the Caribbean. I only asked for one thing before I went, which was for God to come with me. And He did.

How do I know that He came with me? When I got there, God provided and took care of so many things that helped me transition into the new environment. To name a few, He blessed me with great lab groups, and He sheltered me from a massive hurricane that hit the island of Grenada, where I studied and where ninety-five percent of the island was deserted by the storm last year.

During that dangerous period, I felt peaceful and calm and without worry. Those with me just waited out the storm and nothing happened to us, save for a broken window in my room. I can’t describe it well—the great destruction outside but the deep sense of peace within while waiting out the storm. There is a refuge and a sanctuary within that God gives us when we face life and all the things that come with it.

My message in all of this goes back to my realization of the preciousness of a time for maturity and a time for growth. And even though there are moments when things seem bleak and dark, God is always there. Even if He doesn’t respond, we have to walk with the faith that He will soon reveal Himself to us.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church