A few weeks ago, I logged into my student loan account and found out two things:
- My deferment period was ending in four days.
- I had more loans than I thought at first
I kind of freaked out a bit. (Okay, a lot) I was working part time and did not make nearly enough to cover the monthly payments I owed. I was stuck and I didn’t know what to do. First, I decided I’d have to start looking for a full time job and further put off my desire to go to grad school. But, I would still need my loans deferred for another few months while I searched for a new job. The only problem was that it was very unlikely that all of my loans would be approved for deferment. I was only confident that half would. My world turned upside down in an instant. I felt as if I’d been pinned to a wall with nowhere to turn. Unfortunately, I started to predict the worst.
Let me explain. I don’t come from a wealthy family. In fact, the reality is, we’ve struggled a lot. However, I was determined not to live in struggle forever. I knew that my education and future career would be my way out of financial struggle. Then, I graduated top of my class and still struggled to find a full time job in my field.
Eventually, I found a part time job that would help me gain experience before entering my career full time. I planned to stay there for a while, gain experience, and then either pursue a master’s degree for a year or enter a full time job immediately after.
Then, the unexpected hit me. I needed to pay back my loans and despite the degree I worked so hard for, I still couldn’t. Every negative thought went through my mind:
- Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to college in the first place.
- Maybe I should have gone to a cheaper school
- I’ll never be able to pay back my loans
- I’ll go into debt
- What if I’ll never be successful?
I had to pause for a second. The thoughts swirling around in my head were not of God, they were of the devil. God never wants us to have anything less than what he has prepared for us. God placed me at Marist College for a reason. Sure, there were cheaper options but they were not the options I was meant to take. Of course, I’ll be able to pay back my loans, with God all things are possible. Before I was born, God knew me and created me for success.
I started clearing my head of the lies and began embracing truth but the reality was that I still had over $70,000 in loans to pay back.
So, what do you do when your reality looks very different than what God promised?
1. You stand firmly on his promise.
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. (Hebrews 6:13-15)
That’s what Abraham did, that’s what I’m choosing to do, and that’s what I recommend you do as well. God never goes back on his promises. The Bible says that no word spoken from the mouth of God will return empty. It will do exactly what God intended it to do. When God spoke success over my life, it meant he intends to accomplish it no matter what. Just because I can’t see it yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Think about Abraham’s promise. God not only promised Abraham a son, he promised to make him the father of many nations. Yet, Abraham and his wife Sarah couldn’t even conceive a child. When life looks different from your promise, it’s natural to start to think maybe God made a mistake. But he doesn’t make mistakes. His timeline is simply just not the same as ours.
2. You cling to faith and abandon fear.
Uncertain situations tend to bring fear. Fear comes when our norm is shaken and we don’t know what will happen next. The fear I felt was so real. It sought to immobilize me. But here’s what God reminded me of in that moment: what is uncertain with man is certain with God. Even though I don’t know what will happen next, God knows. That simply means I have nothing to worry about.
This reminds me of the time Jesus peacefully calmed a raging storm that was terrifying his disciples. It was dark, they were on a boat and everything was good and perfect. Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of the boat while the disciples were on the upper level. Out of nowhere, the winds started getting stronger and rain started pouring down. Lighting started flashing and thunder was rolling. At least, that’s how I imagine the storm was. It kind of reminds me of life actually. One moment everything can be smooth sailing and the next, you can be in a deadly storm. The crazy thing is that during all this commotion, Jesus never woke up. He was still, sleeping soundly in the bottom of the boat.
Now the disciples started thinking “What kind of man is this? How is he sleeping in this storm?” Then they woke him up yelling, “Jesus, why are you letting us die in this storm? Why don’t you help us?” That’s how I feel sometimes. Everything looks chaotic and I can’t hear a word from God. But you know what, Jesus knew something they didn’t know. He had something they didn’t have. He knew they would make it to the other side safely. So there was no need to worry about it. Sometimes when you’re in an uncertain place and you can’t hear God, it means that you don’t have to worry. If the storm needed calming, he’d calm it.
If your uncertain situation needs calming, Jesus will calm it. He loves you too much to let you drown. If you’re still in the struggle, it means God has a way out. So cling to faith. When negative thoughts come into your mind, reject them immediately and embrace God’s truth. Worrying is like going down a rabbit hole, once you’re in it, it’s very hard to get out. Don’t get stuck in its cycle.
3. You work while you’re waiting.
This is probably one of the hardest things to do. When I’m in an uncertain situation, I want it to change immediately. God promised me success in my career and I’d love to see it right away. It would certainly calm my anxiety. But, God doesn’t work the way we do. He wants us to trust him even when it’s hard.
While you’re waiting, work on something you’re passionate about. Your passion project may help you when its time to step into your promise. It could even lead you to your promise. Who knows? Don’t just sit around idly waiting for God to change something. He could be prompting you to start working on something that could change your life and the life of others.
A great example of working while waiting is Ruth. You may or may not have heard her story but in short, she lost her husband and ended up wandering around a foreign country with her mother in law, Naomi, hoping that God would bring provision for them. Instead of sitting around waiting for provision, she took an opportunity to work for scraps of grain from a stranger’s field to feed her and her mother in law. Little did she know, that man was a relative of Naomi and according to Jewish law, would be required to take her in as his wife if no other relative was alive.
Ruth went from poverty to wealth in an instant and it was only because she decided to work while waiting on God for provision. The work that she was doing might have seemed trivial at the moment but it led her right into the arms of her promise.
I encourage you to start a new hobby, take a course, read more books, travel, blog, or write, while you’re waiting for God to bring you out of uncertainty. It will help to make the wait so much easier. Like Ruth, it may lead you into your promise. You never know.
I can’t say that I know exactly how my loans will be paid off as I’m writing this. Negative thoughts still come into my mind but I reject them and embrace truth. I can say, though, by God’s grace, I got ALL my loans deferred. Even the tough ones. If that isn’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is. God is good every step of the way.
I’ll leave you with some scripture you can hold on to when you’re faced with uncertain situations. When you notice yourself slipping into fear and doubt, read over these:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
When you’re facing uncertain situations, let God’s truth be your anchor. Your situation may seem rocky, but God’s hand is firm. He holds you and covers you from all harm. You don’t have to worry when he’s with you. Even though you may not know your next move, he does. Get out there and start working on your passion project while your waiting. No matter what the hardship is, it gets better.