One of the most precious promises that Jesus offers us is this: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). With us. If this is true, then we are never alone—ever. When prosperity covers us, Jesus is with us. When hardships surround us, Jesus is still with us. When David walked through the valley of the shadow of death, why didn’t he fear? “For you are with me” (Ps 23:4). When the Assyrians came to invade God’s people, what did God’s people say to them? “Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us” (Is 8:10).
Our cohort has just come out of a difficult semester; most of us are very weary and exhausted. Jobs, family responsibilities, papers, assignments, and Hebrew parsings have strained our physical and mental capacities. To say the least, we are relieved that summer has arrived. But it would be a mistake to not to recognize Christ’s fingerprints amid such an arduous semester. Christ was with us. There was never a time where he was not with us this semester. And this is not abstract theology.
No, this theology is anything but abstract. This is the kind of theology that carries a man into the valley of the shadow of death with no fear whatsoever. It’s the kind of theology that caused the Israelites to stand firm when their enemies approached with total destruction in mind. It’s the kind of theology that Jesus left his disciples, knowing they couldn’t fulfill the Great Commission on their own. And it’s the kind of theology that works itself out in the weeds of our studies.
When trials pile up to our necks, and when looming deadlines rapidly approach, it can be tempting forget God and sink into stress and anxiety. It can even be tempting to cut the corners of other responsibilities—like caring for your wife and children. Perhaps “for how else will we be able to meet these deadlines and do a decent job on these academic demands?” is a common thought in the mind of busy seminary students. The rigor of academia is a real and present pressure. Not one student either in the college or seminary will say otherwise. So, how did we make it through another year? How did the 2018 graduates make it four years through such a demanding institution? Just as the rigor of academia is a real and present pressure, so our God is a real and present help (Ps 46:1). We made it because God was with us.
Sometimes he gave us profound insights in impeccable timing that made the papers flow effortlessly from our fingertips. Other times he gave us courage to stand up and give presentations and preach sermons. He gave us brains to intake Greek and Hebrew vocabulary and paradigms. He gave us hearts to absorb eternal truths of his Son, Jesus with much joy. And even when we failed quizzes or exams, he was with us, humbling our prideful hearts. When our papers were not coherent or well-researched, he was with us, teaching us to think carefully, argue fairly, and write clearly. When we had to take a zero on an assignment because family calls, he was with us, helping us to encourage and build up our wives and children when they needed more attention than our studies.
The presence of God seeps into every crevice of our lives, and we would do well to notice as many of his fingerprints as he allows us. He will see us through another year, one semester, one month, one week, one day, one hour, one minute, and one second at a time. And so, come the Fall semester, when the pressures and papers pile up, this is what Christ will say: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa 41:10). And we will respond, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Ps 46:1–3).
3rd Year Seminary Student
- Pray that our students would find rest this summer.
- Pray that our students would not waste the summer on worldly follies, but seek opportunities to exalt Jesus through intentional gospel-proclamation and Christian fellowship.
- Pray that God would be with the students taking summer classes.
- Pray that God would give the faculty and staff refreshing rest on this summer break.