(One of my newest favorite things to do for relaxation is read other Christian blogs – especially those that combine storytelling(real or fictional) with relevant Christian truths.
Like Spirit Pen’s.
I remember building a tent and binge-reading the day I stumbled on her blog. Her consistency, practicality and spiritual depth resonated with me – so I reached out to her when I decided to have guest writers on my blog.
In my first and second year at the university, I didn’t do very well, academically. I didn’t have carryovers, quite alright – which was, of course, a reason to be thankful for – but my grades were what you would call less than admirable, at a glance. To the best of my knowledge, the way I best knew how, I had put in my all, so, the poor results were a huge disappointment and quite the blow to my morale. I had wondered how I could possibly do better, or put in more work.
As a result, whenever a fellowship leader commented on poor results and how students affected needed to put more effort into their studying, tears would spring to my eyes because I felt they had no idea how it felt to work like an elephant and get results only fit for a rat. I believed many of them were highflyers from their first year and they had not tasted failure in the university system.
It was on one of such days during an after-service workers’ meeting that a random fellow worker saw me sniffing and not doing very much to hold back stubborn tears. She pulled me aside and had me spill. After I did, she smiled, nodded and shared her story too:
She had begun as a highflyer but by her second semester, her grades had drastically dropped. It was difficult to comprehend. How did one go from being an A-student to having one carryover per year? As at the time of this conversation, she was in her penultimate year while I was in my second. Hers was a five-year course, while mine was four, so she had endured almost four years of crying and wondering where it all went wrong.
That night, she made me understand she knew what I felt, but that it was only going to get better. She encouraged me and kept following up on me.
It was humbling:
This was someone who had her own serious issues, but because of these serious issues which she had learnt to deal with, she was now a big source of encouragement and strength for me.
That semester, men and brethren, which was the second semester of my second year, I made a grade point average I had long stopped dreaming of.
It was the same semester I considered giving up and probably rewriting UTME to another school.
I still remember the call I made to inform this godsend about my frustrations and plans to give up. I also remember her encouragement to just hang in there because she knew my breakthrough was around the corner.
This gave me my first experiential understanding of 2 Corinthians 1:4: This wonderful lady was able to relate with my troubles the way no one else could because she’d been in my shoes, had been comforted by the Holy Spirit, and was now able to comfort me with the same comfort with which she had been comforted.
At the start of my third year, I resumed later than was expected of the fellowship workers, so I missed the planning meeting held. During that meeting, faculty representatives were chosen to oversee the academic welfare of the students in each faculty. While still at home, news reached me that I had been appointed assistant faculty representative for the biological sciences. I thought the bearer of the news was joking until I realised she was quite serious.
Let me give you a little background info on who I thought faculty reps were: I thought they were the best in the fellowship, academically. I thought they were model students whose grades could serve as goals for other students in the fellowship. So, you could imagine my surprise when I was appointed as one.
I wondered what kind of joke it was. Honestly, I expected by the time I resumed, the fellowship leadership would inform me that my appointment was a mistake and someone more qualified had been selected. I even prepared myself for this eventuality. I could think of two people from my class alone who were unarguably a better fit – not to mention other departments in the faculty.
Alas, reader dearest, I resumed school and realised there was no mistake. I was officially a faculty rep. In fact, of the four reps chosen for the large faculty of science – two for the physical sciences and two for the biological sciences – I was the only one who wasn’t in her final year. It was deeply humbling, but I still wondered how I was supposed to be useful in my office.
Along the line, as I began attending to the challenges of my colleagues, especially the junior ones, I came to my second experiential understanding of that amazing verse of the scripture earlier quoted.
By this time, though my CGPA had taken a serious blow from the poor grades from my first three semesters, I was doing fine on a steady note. My grade sheet was featuring more A’s and B’s that it was, D’s and E’s. I began meeting students who were frustrated, tired and discouraged and I had more to tell them than just, ‘You could study harder.’ Or, ‘You should put more effort.’
I was able to tell them, ‘Hey! I know it’s frustrating. I know because I’ve been there. I can tell you, however, that it only gets better.’ I could share very practical steps and methods that helped me study better and it encouraged them so much.
I realised then and there why God ordained me faculty rep despite my presumed shortcomings.
I felt so fulfilled being able to comfort, encourage and lift others up the same way I had been comforted in the past.
I held that office again in my final year and continued what God had placed me there to do – without a doubt that I was actually fulfilling my ministry.
Through this experience, I realised that the concept of giving back is a ministry on its own. A ministry that requires you had gotten something in the first place. After all, you can’t give back what you never received. And how can you give back comfort and encouragement if you never had a cause to receive comfort and encouragement when you were between a rock and a hard place?
To this end, we must realise that when we find ourselves in trying situations and confusing junctions, it is for more than the trying of our faith that works patience in us.
It is also for us to be able to relate to someone else’s pain and predicament in the future and be able to comfort them with the same comfort with which we have been comforted.
So, dear reader, God is not allowing you to go through that difficult phase because He enjoys seeing you suffer. He’s doing so to make you a better version of yourself – and to make you well suited to help someone else go through the same phase tomorrow.
He’s doing so to prepare you for the ministry He would call you to.
He’s doing so to make you a good and equipped servant in His vineyard.
In light of this, you can’t afford to despise or boycott the process. Let the Holy Spirit walk you through it and trust Him to bring a sharpened edge out of it: one that will sharpen others also in the near or distant future.
Remember, that difficult phase is not to break you. Rather, it is to equip you for the ministry of giving back, because as long as we remain in this world, troubles will continue – but God has an army of angels (in human form) equipped to help His own. You are on the training field to be commissioned into this army. It’s only for a while. You’ll smile out of it, ready to help others out of theirs.
May God help us endure our trying times and come out as ‘sharpened sharpeners’ in Jesus name. Amen.