Perhaps you have encountered some unexpected hardship as a seminary student this semester. Lost a job? Seen unexpected expenses creep up. Seen a side of your anger you didn’t realize was there?
God is not surprised. Nor should we be (at least not in general).
The hidden seminary class
We may not have noticed the class on our course schedule, but it is there. In fact, I’m convinced that without this class seminary would be a waste, or at least ineffective. It is the class of Sanctification, the one where the Holy Spirit works inside us, by using every means possible to perform His eternal work (Romans 8). Our character is deeply affected, we see our true selves, and often are not happy with what we find. Let the transformation begin.
Have you experienced the inconvenience of little things like there not being a computer available to print the course notes or a time-sensitive assignment, or locking the keys in our car, or an important document disappearing from your thumb drive? Or perhaps you did what I did last Spring, leaving my laptop in class and getting almost home, then racing back only to find the building locked for the night (and not planning on returning to class until the next week, after a break).Yeah, Kari was in the car with, and I was not what they call a “happy camper” right then. I repented when I got back in the car, and through the experience God showed us one practical way to shift our schedule and create a healthy margin as to not run ourselves ragged.
Those experiences build our character, but they also reveal it. We start to see who we really are. Or perhaps the trials are “outside” of seminary, with the loss of a job, not connecting well with your spouse in daily mis-communication, or an issue with a child, health complications, or financial worries (welcome to seminary!) — the list goes on and on. I can say I’m big on all-of-life-being-preparation, but do I embrace trials as being from God?
God is actively shaping us into the type of people who love Him more than we love His gifts, and to reflect Jesus’ worth, work and ways. (Reflectors don’t have light in themselves, they just reveal the real light, reflecting it.. Can you relate to this shaping experience?
One constant thread through all my problems
So, why is it so hard? Perhaps part of the answer lies in the common denominator in all my problems:
Yep. More than learning skills and getting some neat letters to place after my name, God is rescuing me from myself. Oh, thank You Jesus that You are the only One able to do so! (Romans 7:24-25). Paul Tripp has some helpful words on the subject:
“The good news of the kingdom is not freedom from hardship, suffering, and loss. It is the news of a Redeemer who has come to rescue me from myself. His rescue produces change that fundamentally alters my response to these inescapable realities. The Redeemer turns rebels into disciples, fools into humble listeners. He makes cripples walk again. In him we can face life and respond with faith, love, and hope. And as he changes us, he allows us to be a part of what he is doing in the lives of others. As you respond to the Redeemer’s work in your life, you can learn to be an instrument in his hands.”
– Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg, Pa.: P & R publishing, 2002), 16.
This added class on our schedule of life is the work of a gracious God who loves us too much to leave us unchanged. We can press on through these trials (see Phil. 3 to see what Paul considered worthy to press on towards). In fact, God purposes, not only to help us navigate through the various stages of seminary, but more than that: to become the kind of people who love Him more than the journey. That’s why this semester is so ridiculously difficult.
(By the way, this hidden seminary class is not an elective. Enjoy!)