After four years of being a stay-at-home mum with my two boys, I’m once again heading back to university in 2019… or so I thought. Things don’t always go as planned. Life is full of unexpected roadblocks and detours.
Unfortunately, although I gave my best and did well for the test and interview, I was not chosen for the limited entry programme I had applied for because I wasn’t a match with any mentor.
This came as a very disappointing news, as it was something I was not only excited about but also necessary for me to realise my dream of teaching again. Ending this year full of uncertainties of the coming year didn’t help any bit with coping with this disappointment.
With only a few weeks left before 2018 ends, and with my carefully thought of plan for the next year crumbling into pieces, I was left scrambling in uncertainties – uncertain of my career, my studies, my children's childcare plans – of my future.
As the new year steadily approaches, it feels so easy to fall into the cycle of fear and worry, both of which don't contribute in improving the situation at all. Either this or I could choose to face every challenge acknowledging that they are opportunities for me to rely on God to expand my capabilities and character.
After all, every challenge comes with its opportunities, if we could only recognise it.
Without the challenge
Many of us would prefer though, for the opportunity to come without any challenge. If we could conveniently do away with the challenge, why not?
We want a high paying job without any challenging colleagues and superiors.
We want to score As without challenging assignments and tests.
We want children without challenging behaviors and antics.
We want a relationship without challenging conversations and thoughts.
In short, it would be great if everything was smooth sailing without the challenges. Since challenges only seem to stress us out and leave us burnt out, it will be good to do without them.
However, we fail to see that missing a challenge is also akin to missing an opportunity.
Missing out on opportunities
When we choose to do things the easy way without a challenge, we miss out on opportunities - opportunities to rely on God; opportunities to grow.
We were not made to be independent of God. Rather to dwell in His presence and drawing on Him to be the best us. Without any challenge, we grow complacent and begin to trust our own abilities to handle things. Subsequently, we grow distant from God because He is unneeded.
While all might seem well, and we feel that we are exceling in life, there will constantly still be the insatiable feeling of needing more. This need can only be filled by coming to the one who created us, for only the creator can reveal to us the purpose of our existence.
We might think that there’s nothing wrong with not relying on God. However, this actually means that we miss the whole point of our existence – we were made to be in a relationship with God.
As Colossians chapter 1, verse 16 says, “All things were created through Him and for Him”.
Without a challenge, we are essentially not growing. We are happy in our comfort zone. There is no need to stretch or go the extra mile as everything is working as planned. In others words, we are stagnant in our growth when in all actuality, our DNA shouts growth.
Needing the challenges
If anything, we actually need challenges in our lives. Instead of praying for a life without challenges and hoping that God will rid our lives of them, we should pray for the wisdom and guidance to face each challenge that comes our way.
There’s no testimony without a test, no message without a mess. Let’s not skip the challenge, for the challenge is needed to make us ready for the opportunity that comes with it.
That way, we draw closer to God with every challenge and deepen our relationship with Him. As we know Him more, we know ourselves more too. The challenge is what grounds our faith in Him and builds our character with the experience needed for our upcoming task.
Facing the uncertainties with the certainties
Undoubtedly there will still be uncertainties, in fact the uncertainties will grow in number. However, the uncertainties are of the perishable things of this world, while what we gain are the certainties of eternity.
Though we don’t know how much we will earn, we know of God’s provision to provide for us.
Though we don’t know what we should study, we know God is able to use anything we offer to Him.
Though we don’t know what our day will be like, we know of God’s strength to sustain us through it.
2019 will be a year full of challenges with so many uncertainties. This time though, I’m not going to waste my time worrying about the uncertainties while wishing the challenges away. Instead, I’ll cling tightly to the certainties of God to carry me through each of my wobbly step.
Esther Koh is a stay-at-home mum living in Wellington with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
Esther Koh’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html