As I head into my senior year of seminary, I realize that this spiritual journey has also been a struggle.
I recall the very first day of my very first class, 2 ½ years ago, went something like this:
“This class is an understanding of the theological interpretation of sin, creation, and new creation, liberating eschatology and systematic theology through the writings of Tertullian and Irenaeus within the Gnostic movement in second century Christianity…”
Within 30 minutes of class, I stepped out and called Pastor Matt:
“I cannot do this! I am in way over my head! This is not for me! I’m coming home!”
Thankfully, I decided to stay, though it has been a struggle. It has required leaving an established 20-year career, struggling to balance a full-time job, family time, and school work, and finding employers who will work with my seminary travel schedule. It also involves missing out on time with my wife and kids, giving up family vacations, and making financial sacrifices.
Maybe you can relate? Have you ever felt the pain of being lost or challenged, filled with concern or doubt in a journey or time in your life? Have your challenges weakened you and caused you to doubt where you are, what you took on or how God is working in your life? Even the greatest blessings can carry emotions of frustration, fear, doubt, and anger.
St. Paul, one of the great leaders of Christianity, felt the pain of his journey. In 2 Corinthians, he refers to it as a thorn in his side, appealing to God to remove all that pain which hinders him in his journey. But instead of healing him, God assures Paul, that in his challenges, struggles, doubts, and weakness, is exactly where God shows up to strengthen and renew.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
One of the most redemptive beliefs for me is that God loves us and will continue to love us, work on us, and provide for us, even with these emotions. These feelings are ok, because we are a broken and flawed people. This is the beauty of God’s grace. Because God, no matter what, will be there to walk with us, redeem and renew us, and always keeps God’s promise to never abandon us, especially in the midst of our challenges.
The power of God is revealed in the midst of our weakness, pain, and doubt!
In closing, I want to thank the people of Christ Lutheran for your continued love, prayers, and support on my seminary journey. This journey continues to be a blessing for me, and I am especially grateful for your support.