I didn’t sleep much the night before moving to college last year. I remember lying in bed, picturing all my boxed-up stuff sitting in the car. My room at home now so bare and impersonal. I pictured the room I’d be moving into the next morning. Boxy and small. I pictured the campus, so enormous and confusing in my mind. The masses of people. Horrible ice breaker games. Awkward conversations. I pictured the impossible classes and stern professors. Picturing, thinking, worrying, analyzing. . . It was not good.
“Enough of that,” you’re thinking. And I agree. Why in the world would I choose to sit down and write about this nervous night?
Well, recently I read the book Esther. In it, a man has a plot to kill all the Jews: backed by the king! As the day draws near, it seems like their fate is set in stone. However, God knew this was all gonna go down. He saves the Jews and gives them victory over their enemies.
They throw a joyous celebration. God has provided amazingly and unexpectedly! They set the celebration as an annual event, to be carried out through the generations. They would always remember what God had done!
While reading about this celebration, a part of Matthew Henry’s commentary stuck out to me: “In reviewing our mercies, we should advert [refer] to former fears and distresses.” That seemed backwards to me. Digging up past fears and hurts couldn’t do any good, could it?
But then I started listing. Thinking through past years I remembered five major things that had scared me, caused great sorrow and confusion, and made me feel quite alone. At the time, these things seemed to be insurmountable. They had grasped at the corners of my identity and how I thought about life.
But now, holding the advantage of time passed, I can see so much I never would have guessed back then. I can see the good that’s come out of those situations, what they’ve taught me, and how life has progressed and moved beyond them. Most of all, I can see with a joyful clarity God’s mercies to me through and because of those situations: something I hadn’t considered when I was in the middle of them.
One of the situations I listed was the fear I had about moving to college. Now, almost exactly a year later, I can see how God has worked and constantly shown himself in this. Yes, the beginning of freshman year was full of awkward ice breaker games and homesickness. But God blessed me. He gave me a new home and new friends that became family.
I absolutely love it here now; it’s a place I constantly see God move. He’s changing lives through Cru. He’s giving me (slightly terrifying) leadership opportunities. He’s been challenging and changing me every day, and carrying me through each hour. He provides for every situation and anxiety. His mercies are endless, and it’s been eye-opening to discover them in this new way.
I want to share this joy with you! Take out a piece of paper and start listing: “What are your past fears, sorrows, and pains?” (Side note, it’s totally okay if the things on your list are works-in-progress. I had one like that too: the fear of leadership. It’s something God is continuing to work on in my life, and I’ve found many mercies in it!)
Now that you have your list, consider God’s mercies to you in and through each situation. Think about how he’s worked and shown himself, how he’s carried you through and changed you for the better. Think about how he’s continuing to use those situations to impact you and those around you and to bring himself glory. Pretty amazing, huh?
So what should we do with all this joy and thankfulness? Well first off, we should rejoice and give thanks! Yay! In prayer, we should thank God for all he’s done and acknowledge it before him.
But we should also let these realizations move us to action: in the same way that the Jews gave gifts and food to each other at their celebration! In Matthew Henry’s words, “every instance of Divine goodness to ourselves, is a new obligation laid on us to do good, to those especially who most need our bounty. Above all, redemption by Christ binds us to be merciful.”
We get to receive God’s mercies with open arms, acknowledging fully their extent, then turn and pour them out into others’ lives. Let’s live this week with that mindset!
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!