Letting God: Faith Under Pressure
Becky writes for us today about the lessons she learnt while feeling stressed under the pressures of academic work. Jesus promises to give us rest, to take our burdens and give us life - but do we remember to believe this and trust in this when things are tough and we're feeling panicked? Becky points us back to the promises in the Bible and shares an important reminder to us all about the nature of the relationship we can have with our Father.
It was coming up to the end of my second year of university, and I had two module deadlines. This was going to be a large majority of my mark. I had been feeling stressed already with different things going on, so I pushed my coursework to the side as I went home to relax over Easter. I was feeling okay about it until I started term again and only had a few weeks to finish everything. This is where the panic kicked in....
The more that I thought about the huge pile I had to get through, the worse I was feeling each day. The thoughts in my head were that there wasn't enough time to get the work done, that there was too much to do - I WAS GOING TO FAIL.
As I started examining my thoughts I realised they were all negative. I had no motivation and I was tired. I realised that I couldn’t do it on my own, in my own strength. My work was my burden and it was weighing me down. As I thought about my work burdening me down, I thought of a song I used to sing in Sunday school, with the words:
"Cast your burdens unto Jesus for he cares for you."
Something that I had often sung, but it just hadn’t clicked that this was a perfect time to put it into practice. Sometimes I think it’s easy to think that as there are so many huge, painful things going on the world, why would God care about me stressing over something like coursework? It seems so small. But the fact is - He does care, and nothing is too small for him!
The next morning came; I was waking up, already feeling crushed looking at the huge pile of work I had to do. I cried out to God for help, for motivation and positive thoughts. I admitted that I couldn’t do it on my own like I thought I could before.
Instead of feeling stressed by the amount of work I had to do I would start to say a little prayer: “Lord thank you for today. Please give me strength and motivation for today and keep my thoughts positive.” Throughout the day I would remind myself “Today is going to be a good day”, “I can get this work done”, “I will finish in time”, and “I am not going to fail".
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:6-7)
Everyday I woke up and repeated this process I had a good productive day. I got even more work done than I hoped to get done each day compared to when I was doing it in my own strength with a negative attitude and hardly scratching the surface. It was still hard and I had to put my head down, I hardly left my room and had late nights. But in the end I finished not only both my modules in time but also a day early, which has never happened before. (I’m pretty last minute) So I am defiantly taking this new attitude into 3rd year (I think I’ll need it.)
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. (Psalm 59:16-17)
When you change your focus from what is stressing you out or worrying you, to focusing on blessings and on good things from God, it’s amazing how quickly things start to change. My whole attitude changed and my mood was a lot better which I think my flatmates were grateful for!
Instead of letting academic work get me down, I was thankful that God provided me with a place at university. Instead of focusing on how much work I had left to do, I was thankful for how much I had completed that day. I was grateful for times where I could stop and have dinner with my flatmates. I was thankful for good Christian friends placed around me and for my mum for praying for me.
In Luke 18 the parable of the persistent widow teaches us to not lose heart in prayer not becoming discouraged but continuing to feel encouraged. She kept pleading with a judge, who didn’t care about anyone. She only got justice because she didn’t give up.
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. (Luke 18:7-8)
We know that our judge (God) is kind and gracious, He answers in love, He is a judge who is interested in us and is ready to fight our battles head on. We need to be proactive making prayer the first resort instead of the last. Becoming more persistent, making prayers more passionate, being ready to see answers and change.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-)
The verse above is found in the lyrics of a song I loved when growing up. It’s all about trusting God, but trusting him with all aspects of your life. It shows us that instead of trying to keep hold of the bits we think we can deal with, or just handing over the bits we feel comfortable with, faith is all about letting go and letting God be in control.
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My name is Becky Dobson. I’m currently studying Graphic Design at Sheffield Hallam. I enjoy cooking and baking, hanging out with my friends and have a good old sing song! I’m looking forward to being a cluster leader at our Hallam cluster at my church up in Sheffield.