All Things Are Working

Family! What’s goodington? I have returned. I had to drop off the grid for a while to prepare for my preliminary exam. What is a preliminary exam? Can’t you just Google it? I’m glad you asked. They’re set up a little differently depending on the school and department, but they’re used to see if a student should be allowed to begin or continue work on their doctorate dissertation. My department (Bioengineering) requires that, after your first year in the program, you set up a novel experimental design to acquire new knowledge in your field. You must write up a report (8 page max) detailing your proposal and present your idea to a committee of faculty members who will ask you questions to see how bad they can make you sweat test your knowledge of the subject matter. I equate it to a less intense version of a thesis defense. All this after just one year in grad school.

I was scared.

We won’t go into some of the minor insecurities that I hold in the world of academia, but let’s just say I didn’t know if I would get through this. In fact, there were plenty of moments when I thought I wouldn’t get through this. Facts weren’t making sense. Papers were contradicting each other. Information would get lost in my mind. I even began to prepare myself to deal with a failing presentation in case that ended up being the outcome. Yeah, not a good look.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I was stupid, just out of my league at this juncture (again, I’m working on my insecurities in academia). But while my fear decided to beat me over the head every now and again, I continued to prepare. I read papers, took notes, formulated ideas, modified those ideas, and attempted to organize them into a coherent proposal. I did what I had to do. But the fear didn’t go away. It was still there, lingering over me just waiting to say “I told you so.” So I did the only thing I could do…

I went to my God.

I brought my situation, my fear, my doubt, and my insecurities to Him. And I’ll tell you what. Peace surly did follow. I still didn’t know if I would pass or fail, but I knew that worrying about it wouldn’t change God’s will. I knew worrying wouldn’t change the direction that God was taking me. I knew worrying wouldn’t change the destiny God had in store for me.

In the end, I got through it. I passed my prelim. (Hurrah! Confetti! Happy dance!) And you know what I was reminded of? God used a lot of seemingly insignificant events to help make my exam go smoothly. Trust me when I say this, I could have easily failed my prelim if one or two things hadn’t gone the way they went. Things that were out of my control. Things that I thought would actually hinder me from passing, but instead saved me from failing. Thank God that His favor was on me. Through all this, I kept thinking about these lyrics from Fred Hammond…

All things are working for me, even things I can’t see
Your ways are so beyond me,
But You said that You would let it be for my good,
So I’ll rest and just believe

Sometimes we can’t understand why God allows certain things to happen in our lives until much later. It can be weeks, months, or even years later. In our “immediate gratification” society, we expect to see positive effects right away. Shoot, if ubertwitter takes more than 5 seconds to refresh, I get annoyed. But sometimes there are things that are working that we can’t see. Chess pieces being moved into place to set up the win. I know that I sometimes struggle with staying positive in the midst of a storm, but His ways are so beyond us and He does everything for our good.

So rest and just believe.” This is key to having any peace in your struggle. However, don’t let that line fool you. Rest doesn’t mean don’t do anything. It doesn’t mean that you can chill out and God will have everything gift wrapped for you the next morning. Rest means to continue to move forward, but without the burden of doubt or fear. That burden now belongs to Jesus. What was a struggle is now a victory.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, my preparation alone was not the reason I passed my prelim. I just thank God that all things, whether they seem beneficial or disadvantageous, are working for my good.

-TDA

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11 thoughts on “All Things Are Working

  1. First!!

    I was just about to ask you WHAT was taking you so long to write something. lol!

    Conrgats on passing your prelims!! Feel free to treat me to wings and an apple martini whenever you want.

  2. Congrats on passing Sir! 🙂 Those prelims sound like the devil… But I’m glad you go through it. Sheesh, thinking about it, it has been a while since you had a post. I gotta find that follow button… And I like that line. “So rest and just believe.” Now to incorporate that into my life. *sigh*

  3. Kudos to you, my man. You know that this is the first step of bigger things coming your way. Plus, you just reaffirmed why I don’t want to go to grad school (even though I really need to). That feeling you just described was what I felt on a weekly basis my last two years of undergrad. That engineering degree was not fun at all. Those talks with God got me through a lot. Congrats on passing your prelims and good luck in your future endeavors.

  4. Berook, I really enjoyed this post. It really ministered to me and encouraged me that the fight is already fixed, we just have to let go and let God do the work. Congrats again on passing that exam. I’m sure there are many more great things God has in store for you, my man. It’s great to know that in this seemingly hellish society there are still people who know the power of our living and mighty God and can see Him working in our everyday lives. I love hearing testimonies like this because it encourages me to keep on keepin’ on in my walk with the Lord, come what may. 9 months from now, I will be defending my thesis and I will definitely keep this post as one of my favorites to look back on to stay encouraged. It’s great to know where your help comes from and that you are constantly reminded that it’s from God. Okay, I’ll stop now. Because I could preach an entire sermon right here, and if I do that, then I’m required to take up an offering from you, and uhhh…that’s prolly not in your grad student budget. LOL. Anywho, thanks again for this. It really blessed me!

    –Courtney

  5. Congrats on passing buddy! I’m glad you got it out of the way cuz I know you were stressed, but I’m glad that it worked out in your favor…I was just saying to myself in the car how powerful the words of “if God can be for me, who can be against me” and any other things about God are if you really sit back and think about it…I’m proud of you! 🙂

  6. Thanks guys!!

    @Ivy: No, you’re supposed to treat ME. That’s like someone paying for everyone else’s dinner/drinks on their birthday.

    @Sukez: Yes, incorporate that line!

    @CBG: Yeah, finishing out my engineering degree wasn’t pretty either, but I know that this is the path I gotta go down. I hope that no matter what you decide (grad school or not) that it leads you to a career in something you’re passionate about.

    @Courtney: Glad you were blessed! Just trying to use my testimony to encourage others.

    @Sane: YUP! I’m already at Season 3 Episode 11.

    @Boogie: God is really amazing 🙂

  7. 1 John 5:4-5 “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

    i felt similarly to you when i went through my comps (which is basically like your prelims except in our 3rd yr). and often times i feel like maybe im not cut out for grad school. but i am constantly reminded that God did not bring me this far to leave me or forsake me. He has already given me the victory, i just have to claim it!!! life isnt always going to be full of UPs, i just have to recognize that when i face the downs, God will see me through. i just have to be patient, faithful, and obedient (much easier said than done, believe me).

    all that to say–i’m glad you know where your strength comes from. dont forget it–grad school only beats down on you more the further along you go. just stay strong and dont hesitate to call on God or other believers when you feel weak and unsure.

    and again, congrats future dr. b

  8. You go, boyyyy! I’m so proud of you. Your blog was like “one to grow on.”
    *the more you know…*

    All jokes aside, that line from the Hammond song, has a similar message of encouragement to the song I’ve been trying to incorporate into my outlook. My brother & sister-in-law sing it in their choir and it’s called “Encourage Yourself”, and the opening lyrics are:

    “Sometimes you have to encourage yourself
    Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test
    and no matter how you feel
    Speak the word you will be healed”

    It’s a daily test to speak over that voice in your head that says, “eff it. i quit this project.” And I do mean DAILY. I’m so glad that you realized the victory in you. Congratulations.

    Now where’s my drank?

  9. *hugs Berook*

    Whoooo!

    And THIS:

    “God used a lot of seemingly insignificant events to help make my exam go smoothly. Trust me when I say this, I could have easily failed my prelim if one or two things hadn’t gone the way they went. ‘

    Lawd, yes. This is why I believe, every little moment, even if seemingly insignificant is meant to happen for a reason. You saw the Curious Case of Benjamin Button? Anyhow, there’s this montage about halfway through the movie that illustrates this point so eloquently. “If this wouldn’t have happened, that wouldn’t have happened, and so on and so on…”

    Great post. Much success to you, bro.

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