2017 has not been an easy year so far. I moved to a city where I knew no one, transferred to a new school, moved into an apartment by myself, moved away from my family and friends, and had a few other “setbacks.” And to be honest, I wasn’t doing real well with it. As excited as I was to start this new chapter in my life, I liked the status quo. I liked being around people who knew me, classes where I knew what to expect, and no rent payment. Over the last two weeks, things seemed to get worse. The transmission went out in my car, I found out I lost around $7,000 in scholarships and other financial aid, I didn’t feel like I was connecting with people, and my school refused to accept some transfer credits they told me they would accept.

As the week progressed, I got angrier and angrier at myself for ever moving here and at God for allowing these things to happen to me. I began to wonder if I ever should have come here. Since all this was going wrong, He obviously didn’t care for me. I may not have ever said those words exactly, but that certainly was how I was living my life. Talk about faulty theology. As each thing happened, I got angrier and angrier at God and began wondering if this was really where I was supposed to be.

I walked into church today, looking like the good little Christian I was trying to pass myself off as, but still stewing over the events of the last few weeks. As I walked into Sunday school, several people asked me about my week, people wanted to sit by me, and two people I had never met came up to introduce themselves. Sometime while I was being bitter about leaving all I knew, I was starting to make friends here. And I know that was the work of God, because I certainly didn’t see it coming.

While I was still reeling from my new realization, our teacher asked us to pray for the pastor and his family, because they had just lost their 14 month old nephew in a car accident. We prayed then went through our lesson. As we moved on to the actual church service, I noticed the pastor sitting with his family in the front row, just like every other Sunday. A man came up and made an announcement about his loss and he asked for prayers for the pastor, as he would still be preaching this Sunday. The service moved on and the first song we sang was “It Is Well” written by Horacio Spafford after the loss of his 4 daughters at sea. As we sang this song as a congregation, we all grieved for the loss of that little boy and watching the pastor, his family, and countless others begin to cry, I realized what a community of believers I was surrounded by. None of the congregation members had met that little boy, but we felt the pain of loss all the same.

Amazingly, I held it together through that song. As the words to the next song appeared on the screen, I recognized the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns:

In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid, Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day, Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine, Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” – Getty Music, Copyright 2001.

The lyrics suddenly became incredibly personal. I had been so angry because I was seemingly alone in a strange place, a foreigner in a new land. I had felt alone, abandoned, hopeless because I had never taken a close enough look. I was never alone, for God was with me. When my car died, God was there. When I lost the scholarship, God was there. When I battled with loneliness, God was there. Every step I walked, every breath I took, every bill I paid, God was there. I had been given so much and I was totally ignoring it. I’m alive, I’m healthy, my family is healthy, my classes will get done, and I have people who are trying to get to know me just as much as I’m trying to get to know them. I can appeal the credits, I can pay my bills, and I can drive my new car.

I had seen myself surrounded by so much “loss,” but all was not lost. I had become so focused on unimportant things that I didn’t notice the grace and sovereignty of God in my life. When I graduate doesn’t matter. What my financial status is doesn’t matter. What I drive doesn’t matter. Whether I’m surrounded by friends or starting to make them doesn’t matter. What matters is who my faith is in, who I’m living my life for, and where my focus is. I am so incredibly blessed and I take it so incredibly for granted. I am right where I am supposed to be in this season of my life. And it may be more difficult than any season I have walked through before, but I don’t walk it alone.

Today my world shifted because my focus shifted. My life isn’t about me. I’m not the main character in my story. God is. I don’t need to be so focused on if things are going my way or not, if all of the little details that I have in my 5 year plan are going exactly as I expected them, because they’re not going to. Life doesn’t work that way. I just need to keep my eyes on God, constantly running toward Him, and He’ll take care of the rest. For He is my light, my strength, my song. He is my solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. In Christ alone my hope is found.