I’m starting to question whether or not I’m in the right area of study. It seemed rather obvious before: God kept having me talk to people who brought up the positives of studying in East Asia, leading me toward the exact place in Japan He wants me to go abroad and even helping me get into difficult programs like the one for Peace Corps Prep at my school. Earlier this week, I read in my devotional that if something is causing you stress, it’s obvious that you’re going against God’s word. And quite frankly, I am put under a lot of stress. I never had the opportunity to study any East Asian language before college. My Chinese classes are based upon students who have been taking it since high school, and learning Japanese is very difficult on your own. I even broke down crying today at the sheer difficulty of my classes and the stress Chinese alone places upon me, let alone the stress of my other classes. Should I take this as a sign that God actually doesn’t want me there? Or should I see it as him challenging me to better myself? Or something entirely different?
When I read your question, my first thought was on scripture and the stress Jesus and His apostles must have dealt with as they shared God’s Word with others. Usually the stress of a Christian is described as a cross to bear. We all carry our crosses, big and small, and we are reminded that Jesus had to bear the heaviest burdens when He carried His cross for us.
No, stress and difficulty are not indications that you’re on the wrong path. If that were the case, none of us would never see anything through. Most successes are achieved after years and years of hard work, stress and anxiety.
I think there is a purpose for stresses and difficulties. For one, they challenge us. They offer us the option of overcoming the burden or giving up. The former strengthens us.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
The other purpose for difficulties and anxieties is to direct us toward God. Quite honestly, we can’t live without Jesus, even on our good days. But on the bad days, only God is our strength. Only He can help us get through the difficulties that life brings. And that’s what He wants, after all. Scripture reminds us often that God wants us to rely on Him always.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)
So, this is what I think you should do:
- Accept your cross and go with it. Find a way to get on track with your studies and for those classes that you’re struggling with. Arrange a study group where you can speak the language in a casual environment.
- Pray for strength. “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). God is waiting for you to look to Him. It pleases Him when you find strength in Him.
Good luck and God bless!
Need some advice? Ask your questions in the Ask Olivia Girl Talk forum or in the comments below and I might answer them in a future article!