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HOW I LEARNED TO STOP LIVING IN MY OWN STRENGTH WHILE COMPLETING MY PHD

Can you recall a time where you felt overwhelmed and had many questions but little to no answers? Well I certainly have! Over the past couple of months, I’ve been writing up my PhD thesis and I’ll be honest…at the beginning things looked bleak and very uncertain. I was crippled by fear and anxiety at the thought of writing a 60,000-80,000 word document.

This feeling of helplessness and discouragement continued for the early stages of my writing, each day just scraping through by the Grace of God and begging for this season of my life to pass.

However, in the midst of my hardship He gave me a glimmer of hope to hold on to. Firstly, it started with an encounter night at my church where a discussion about circumstances or people that have caused you to lose confidence came up. In that moment I was reminded that our confidence is in the Lord, not in ourselves. My eyes streamed as I apologised to God for carrying a burden that I didn’t have the strength and power to sustain alone. I had tried to be superwoman and failed miserably. I remember feeling a weight lift from my chest, like finally my lungs were being filled with air again and I felt lighter.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28)

That night I was reminded that where I can’t, God CAN and I renewed my confidence in Him. Honestly speaking I can’t say that things got drastically easier from there, but there was a shift in my perspective. I saw the battle as God’s fight, not mine. More importantly, a fight He had already WON and I already had victory over.

Various other distractions popped up which fought to steal my peace and joy. Things quite close to home, but at the same time God also presented me with reasons to celebrate in the midst of my trials. The trial was still there yet the Lord sustained my joy and gave me a reason to smile and laugh.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

(Psalm 40:3)

With most of my studies behind me I now understand that God was doing something new in my life. He enabled me to do the very thing that looked impossible – write my PhD thesis! As I finish off the final edits of my thesis chapters, I laugh at myself as I sit back and think, “God saw the destination from the very beginning”. I remember in church hearing a sermon about journeys and the “middle” being the toughest and most daunting yet God is with us throughout it all. This process has helped to cultivate patience, perseverance and trust.

God wants to pour so much into us so we can then pour out into our spheres of influence, but there is a period of testing and refinement that we often need to experience beforehand. There is a process of crushing and pressing to produce oil and new wine and similarly I believe we go through difficult processes in preparation for the new to come. Things don’t always go according to plan and in the physical the situation may look stagnant, overwhelming or just void. However, our God is in the business of turning apparently nothing into something beautiful and this past year is a testament of that.

Song for the Season: “Waymaker

Even when I don’t see it, you’re working, Even when I don’t feel it, you’re working.”

Key Lessons and Truths:

  • He is the God of the hilltop and the valley: In my victory and in my downfalls, He is still Lord and I know that He faithfully walks with me through every season.
  • He renews our perspective and establishes us in truth when we repent: When we acknowledge His Lordship and turn from doing things in our own strength He heals and empowers us.
  • He will teach us to become comfortable with being uncomfortable: By putting you in a new setting, giving you new responsibility, new people to interact with…it could be anything. However, God showed me that although my circumstances may change, He is the one constant in my life.
  • Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the World: Challenges may come, big or small. Nevertheless, the Lion of Judah inside of us helps us to overcome them all!

 Book for the Battle:

Crushing: God Turns Pressure into Powerby TD Jakes.

I pray that my journey stirs up faith in you to go through the trial and reap the fruit at the end. Whatever journey you are on, remember that God is our great Shepherd and promises never to leave or forsake us.

Q:

Can you remember a time when God showed up in an unexpected way in your life? Share with us in the comments below.

Chinedu is a final year PhD student completing her research into pregnancy complications. As a writing enthusiast she wants to pursue a career in medical writing however her passions extend beyond science as she co-leads the homeless outreach team at her church and enjoys writing motivational blog posts.

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