Monday, August 13, 2012

Fighting against Providence

To my limited sight, sometimes providence doesn't look so wonderful.

For instance, this summer, I've really been struggling to work on my dissertation. There are several reasons for that, and not all of them are bad, much less sinful. But I've come to realize that one of the reasons is that I've been angry at God.

Earlier in the summer, I had told myself, piously, that I don't really get angry at God, that it just isn't a thing I struggle with. But I'm no longer so sure. At least, in my case, it seems to take the form of a sullen, distracted, foot-dragging resentment that covets what others have instead of praising the Lord for what I've been given.

See, I've been feeling restless in the seemingly endless student phase of my life and coveting the season of life that many of my friends and peers are in--growing families and putting down roots and just, well, living real, grown-up looking lives. Sometimes it truly feels like we're never going to arrive there. While it might not be wrong to long for those things, at times I've allowed the longing to spill over into discontentment and ingratitude.

I know that plenty of people would love to be in the position I am in, of getting to study theology and history full-time, and working towards producing something publishable in the field. Honestly, right now my response to that is, "I promise, this is not as fun as it looks." But I've felt convicted of the need to repent of an entitled, thankless attitude. It's failing to recognize the privilege of advanced study and the goodness of the decade's journey that's led here. What's more, it's God's loving provision for me, and it's wrong for me to grumble about it. He has a purpose for it. Thankfully, it's not my job to discern that purpose right now!

I don't doubt that God could shake things up in such a way that academia doesn't end up being my primary focus in future years; but for right now, it's what's right in front of me, and every indication I have is that it's what He intends for me to pour my heart and soul into indefinitely. So my prayer is that I can get to a place where I am pursuing it joyfully once again. Including on the days when it's unpleasant, "just a job," and when the temptation is to fixate on other things.

There's part of me that's still crying angrily, "This is a crummy provision! This isn't what I want to be devoting these years to anymore. Can't you just give me what I want right now? Maybe give me an easy out?" But the Lord has shown me again and again that He knows far better than I do what I need, and how He wants to be glorified in my life. And it's for me to trust Him and learn (over and over again, however painfully) to be satisfied in Him above all else. Please pray for me as I struggle to believe and to show forth in my life that His providence is indeed wonderful.


  1. Sarah, often I read your posts and want to comment because I can identify... and then I don't comment because "I hear you" by itself sounds lame. :-) But I wanted you to know that your posts are encouraging to me (even though I am not studying for an advanced degree) and I really appreciate the way that you articulate these tensions.

    1. Thanks, Sharon. It is heartening to know that you can identify! I'm really glad these posts have been encouraging.

  2. Hi Sarah, Thanks so much for this post. I, too, have been struggling with this and have been asking The Lord to "save" me from my work situation, where things have been really hard lately. I will continue to pray for you

    1. Wonderful to hear from you, Angela, and thanks so much for your comment and prayers -- they mean a lot! I'm sorry work has been so difficult for you; I'm praying for you as well.