Where God's story intertwines with ours | Soli Deo Gloria
So You've Found Our Blog!!
We’ve been dreaming for a little while about how we can make God Stories part of our everyday lives instead of just a Thursday Night Thing. So we decided to create this platform: the God Stories Blog. While we’re all studying for midterms, working, doing research, playing sports, joining clubs, and drinking too much coffee, (the list goes on and on), it’s sometimes easy to forget the reason we’re here and the big story that we’re in the middle of. This blog exists to remind one another of God’s big story and to encourage one another that God is working in our lives right here and right now. We’re looking for stories of where you see God moving in your life. Maybe it’s in a friendship you made in class, maybe you asked God to show himself to you, and he did, or maybe you got to share a bit of your journey with someone and it impacted them. We’re looking for stories big and small, as well as more thought provoking messages about what God is showing you and teaching you. This is a place to put the words you share at TNT during God Stories into writing, and to expand on what you talked about. This is also a place to bridge TNT with the rest of the week and continue the discussions we start on Thursday nights. You can send your submissions through the form below or by emailing it to email@example.com. Anyone can submit a story, you don’t have to share at TNT to share here. We can’t wait to hear from you! Rachael
Choosing Faith In Disappointment
By Marissa Mitev
For the last few years, I’ve been journeying with the Father into how to process disappointment and how He sees it. Disappointment is something familiar to us all, yet each time it can feel so fresh and catch us off guard with its sharp pain. I’m learning that I can either respond with doubts and anxiety or renewed resolve to believe God for His promises. And to be honest, for me it is usually a mix of both. But each time, I let His goodness and trustworthiness sink deeper into my heart.
I have dealt with a chronic illness for about 7 years, and the journey of pursuing my healing brought with it many experiences of severe disappointment. And while I have now received so much of the physical healing I cried out for (PRAISE!!!) this journey has taught me greatly about how to process disappointments in the future. How good is God that what He graciously speaks to us during painful seasons endures to bless us immensely throughout our lives! Here is a bit of what God has shown me:
The questions of “Why does this keep happening? Is there something I’ve messed up? What if God doesn’t actually ever provide for me here?” often bring me to a place where I take back the reigns and grasp for control to try to help myself believe that if I just do X and Y I won’t have to be disappointed again. I.e. If I just accept it how it is and stop thinking things will change, I won’t have to feel the pain of disappointment; except I now see that, this choice of discouragement abandons the faith I was born for.
I’ve heard Melissa Helser say, “the problem isn’t being disappointed, the problem is staying disappointed”. See, as children of God, we were made to look disappointment in the face and declare: My God remains good, His promises for me are true, He does not withhold from me, and He never leaves me without.
God has been showing me that part of processing disappointment is letting God meet us in our pain with healing, comfort, and fresh faith. Our disappointment matters to God, A LOT. And it is necessary that we let ourselves believe it matters to Him! Just because He sees the end of the story and He knows it ends in victory, does not mean He is apathetic to our pain or impatient with our process.
I recently heard a story about a boy who was incredibly excited to go to school for pajama day. He had picked out his pajamas, his slippers, the whole thing. He wore it the evening before and to bed, and was so excited to go to school the next day in his pajamas. The thing was, on pajama day he woke up with pink eye and couldn’t go. Understandably, he was crushed. His mom wrote about this on Instagram and shared that the pain of disappointment is her least favourite thing to walk through with her children. And what hit me when I read that was, wow, if this mom doesn’t like walking through disappointment with her children, because her heart hurts deeply when her children are hurting, how much more must our good Father feel the pain of our disappointment. Think about this: the boy’s mom knew many beautiful things coming very soon in his future. She knew about the Christmas presents he’d be unwrapping soon, the cookies he’d enjoy, the games he’d play, and the joys he would experience very soon. But that did not mean that his disappointment was meaningless or unimportant to her. Yes, she would help her son to see that there would be many days ahead to look forward to with hope and expectancy. But that does not mean she would neglect his need for comfort or the reality of his deep sadness. I know that this example is not as deep as the disappointments that we can face, and you personally may have faced deeply painful things that can hardly compare. But I feel the example shows God’s heart for us in disappointment.
When we are disappointed, no single time is insignificant to Him. He doesn’t impatiently wait for us to look at all the good that happened in the past or the good He will bring us in the future. He doesn’t shake His head as we feel the pain, as though we are ungrateful for all He’s given. Nope. He meets us right there. He lets us grieve the loss of what we thought would be. And then He meets us again to remind us that His promises remain true and real for our lives.
God reminds us that He is faithful, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. It is out of that reminder that we can see with grateful hearts all He has done and believe again with hope for the future. It is when we believe He is actually a good Father, never desiring us to be disappointed, but always willing to restore hope, that we can dream again with Him.
I read a quote recently, “We’re scared to dream because we’re scared to be disappointed. Learn to deal with disappointment and you will increase your capacity to dream”- Ally Fallon. If we know we can conquer disappointment, then we won’t be held back from dreaming. We dream when we believe with hope for the future. Fear tells us that it is not worth it because we could be disappointed again. Fear tells us to make a large safety net and a secure plan B in order to avoid the risk of a painful disappointment. Fear tells us not to tell others when we are hopeful about something because then we won’t have to tell others if it doesn’t work out. Faith tells us, keep dreaming, because though disappointment may come, you will arise out of it stronger and with greater hope for the promises God has spoken. Faith lets us dream because we know that God only has our best in mind. Faith invites us to dream because the fear of disappointment disappears in light of the Father’s great kindness and compassion. Faith lets us share our hopes and dreams with those who love us because we know they will be there to celebrate its fulfillment or help us through a painful loss. We know that even if we face a crushing disappointment, God will bring us through it to a greater glory. Faith invites us to persevere and believe that steadfast hope will win.
So let’s be dreamers. Let’s surrender each one of our dreams to the Father and let Him breathe His life into them. Let’s let Him revive dreams that have been swallowed up by disappointment. Let’s be confident sons and daughters who get to dream big dreams because we have a God who has freed us from fear.
_________________________________________________________________________________________  I whole-heartedly recommend you listen to Melissa Helser’s podcast episode “Engaging Hope in Seasons of Disappointment”. This changed my life.
To Walk in Faith
By Erin Stanley
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives to I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” - John 14:27 I’ve lived most of my life among non-Christians. For a while, I felt like the outsider. I felt like people saw me as someone who hadn’t caught up on their perceived deceit that is God. While I continued to walk in my faith, I felt like my friends were waiting for the day that I would stop believing. I remember feeling unstable. Like I was constantly changing myself to fit the situation I was in. For a long time, I was constantly asking God to give me good, healthy friendships. In August, I felt the overwhelming urge to come to UCM, something that I hadn’t done in about two years. Originally, I had no intention of coming. I have a long commute, and I tried it once and it didn’t work for me. But I decided that if God was telling me to go, it was probably a good idea. I have to be honest, I was really nervous. I am terrible in social situations. So the thought of coming to UCM as a newbie and mingling with people who have known each other for years was horrifying to me. Fast forward to the first TNT. I walked in, heart pounding, and sat down. I sat far away from any people. I had my phone in my hand to look like I was doing something. I remember saying to God, have someone talk to me or I’m not coming back. And someone did. Actually, I talked to quite a few people that night. I left with a full heart and a positive outlook on the semester. While that day was so encouraging, God didn’t just give me friendships from UCM. He led me to a tightknit group of people in my program that are some of the most supportive people I know. I feel like for a long time I always thought that I would need Christians in my life to feel supported, but God showed me that I just needed people. People who were there for me, regardless of their religious views. My life as a Christian has been tumultuous, enduring, and yet so rewarding. Last year left me feeling dejected. I struggled so much because I hid. I hid my feelings from people, and unsuccessfully, I tried to hide from God. I lost myself. It made me nervous to come back to school. I perfected the art of putting on a brave face. But what God has done for me these past three months has completely changed me. I don’t feel like I am hiding anymore. I’m talking to people about my struggles. I am asking for help. I feel more supported than I have ever felt. And I am so grateful. If there is one take away from this, it would be trust in God and you will find peace. Even if things are rough and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, let God be your eyes. Because there is a light. Even if you can’t see it.
By Brendan Pousett
It is often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It is a phrase that makes a lot of sense to me, since there are few comforts I enjoy more than a great meal, prepared painstakingly by hands of love. On a much less poetic note, there are some occasions where I appreciate a meal cooked on my behalf simply because it is a practical way of serving me (pun intended) when I am busy. Cooking meals for someone saves them time and nourishes their body. There have been many times during midterm season when I have been too tired/busy to cook, and each time it has just taken a phone call to have my Mom’s 2006 Sienna screaming down Hwy 99, with a crockpot full of stew and some weird, creatively concocted beverage in tow. Ok so now that my love of food is out of the way, let me set the scene of thanksgiving weekend, 2017. I had come home, as I usually do on thanksgiving, intent on sharing some hearty times with family and friends. However, due to the recent arrival of my niece to the faraway land known as Calgary, my parents were whisked away from their usual post of cooking the aforementioned tasty treats in order to assist in caring for a 4 week old human being. My older sister and I were left behind with a whiny dog, and a gathering intended for tens of joyous people stuffing their faces and being thankful for pumpkin pie turned into a crew of two students studying heat transfer and new testament greek. I should mention here that thanksgiving is also my favourite holiday, so missing out was an extra big deal. And so it came to pass that during this weekend of relative isolation, I began to isolate myself more and more, using homework as an excuse for missing the chance to see friends. Of course, I wasn’t doing much homework either, which made me feel bad for procrastinating. As the weekend wore on, I began to question my decision coming home. On Sunday night, the thoughts took over. “God, what do I even have to be thankful for this weekend? I mean, you have taken all the things I enjoy out of this weekend, and given me a ton of schoolwork to do as well?….Geez, this sucks, school sucks, get me out of here”. And as I sat at my desk, throwing myself a pathetic pity party, I began to realize that I was also very hungry, which did nothing to alleviate the harmful, selfish thoughts racing through my brain. Somewhere during this time period, my sister had gone out to visit a family friend. Noticing her return, I stumbled into the kitchen to say hello, and rustle me up some grub from the fridge. It was at this moment that she produced a to-go box, full of a delicious thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. As I stood there, stupefied of the generosity so perfectly enclosed in that plastic to go container, I realized how skewed my perspectives had become. The comforts of home to which I had felt entitled were unavailable to me, and there was nothing I could do to get them back. It was only through the generosity of others that I felt loved, and God revealed to me that because of my attitude, I had not been showing that same generosity and kindness to others. It was this moment where God challenged me to let go of the perception I deserved better, but instead to be an agent in showing his love and kindness to people who feel alone. I know that this is an area that requires a lot of work in, but I am looking forward to the journey of God using me to encourage, just as I was encouraged by an act of generosity on Thanksgiving, 2017.
Do I Belong?
By Dolly Wang
There’s a question that I’ve asked myself repeatedly over the years—sometimes as I laugh at a joke amongst a group of friends, sometimes through tears, curled into the fetal position. Sometimes verbally. Sometimes unadmittedly, underneath layers of pretense that I’ve created to protect myself. It’s not a question you ever want to find yourself voicing, yet leaving it unanswered breeds a deep, insatiable anxiety that breaks you down. That question is, “do I belong?” I remember coming back to Vancouver for the final time after years of constantly moving countries. The first day of grade seven, I walked into the classroom and immediately felt naked—I knew that I didn’t belong. I knew that as certainly as I knew I wore the wrong clothes, packed the wrong things for lunch, and couldn’t serve a volleyball like all the other kids. I was a foreigner. Do I belong? Throughout high school, the “no” to this question gradually evolved into a “maybe”. I did well academically, played sports, and made friends. If I did what everyone else was doing, if I at least appeared to blend in amongst the hundreds of faces in the school yearbook, then maybe the superficial label of “I belong” will gradually seep in deeper and translate into the acceptance that I so deeply craved. But I knew that deep down, the answer was still no; inwardly, I still felt like a foreigner. Reducing myself to this simple label demolished and twisted my perception of what it meant to feel human, as I had come to think that being a foreigner meant that I deserved the rejection. I believe that a sense of belonging is a universal human need, regardless of background. And the opposite, rejection, kills you slowly by poisoning your self-worth and identity. When I eventually found community, all of this made it extremely difficult to both love and accept love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Throughout living in community at UBC, I wrestled with this as Jesus showed me more and more of what receiving His love was, particularly in response to the label “foreigner”. I found that receiving His love allowed me to finally experience the feeling of “I’ve come home”. Being a “foreigner” is no longer a part of my identity, but it’s a part of my history. And I lay that part of my history down before Jesus as I co-lead a volunteer team to Greek refugee camp this Christmas. I cannot begin to imagine the experiences a refugee has undergone to flee war and arrive at a refugee camp. But I would like to get down on my knees and serve them, in order to demonstrate the answer to the question I’ve repeated to myself these past ten years: Is there a place in this world for me, does anyone see me, do I deserve love--do I belong? Yes.
Finding Comfort in the Right Place
By Micaela Dickhof
Academic evaluations coming back, rain stowing away in the clouds and knowing full well it’s waiting for the right time to fall heavy. It’s difficult to remember your talents, your story and your inherent worth in God’s kingdom when doom and gloom is evident. May I remind you friends, how amazing God’s comfort is compared to the comfort of secularism – drowning your sorrows in Netflix binges, mounds of junk good and unsolicited or vague advice. “It’s just one assignment/midterm/paper (insert whatever applies to your program)” “Let’s hit the bar” “You’re going to kill the final” I find that Fall is a particularly difficult season, when days become shorter and motivation is nowhere to be found, especially after you receive some less than satisfactory feedback from a professor or supervisor at work. You start to notice that people withdraw a bit more, busying or distracting themselves from the reality of this time of year. The colder weather isn’t particularly pleasant and natural human nature makes us avoid change. Change in season, change in pace, change in relationships, change in routine. We like what is consistent; we crave comfort. Did anyone else watch all the episodes of Stranger Things in a day? No? Just me? Okay. Perhaps you found something else recently to take your mind off midterms, off that problem at work, that fight with your significant other or that paper you meant to start 3 days ago. My devotions are less frequent and I find shame in bringing my brokenness and failures to my King. I think it’s easier to admit and relate to peers in failing at something because as humans, we are imperfect. Competent students recognize this: we are in constant need of repair. Admitting our faults is necessary and drives forgiveness from our Father. He is waiting with open arms, calling us back and providing the sweetest of comforts. I cannot emphasize enough how SWEET this comfort is. For me, it had to start with prayers of a willing and open heart again. A heart that searches for redemption and a deeper relationship with God as opposed to achievement-based faith. Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Seeking God during a busy season, in a disappointing time in your life is hard. I get that. That’s me – I also need this constant reminder (this post is just as much for you as it is me). I just want to encourage you all to seek Him first for whatever is on your heart, whatever is troubling your soul. He is a great source of comfort, our Father, and wants the best for us. His plans are greater than ours and He may be guiding you in a direction that isn’t even on your radar now. Consider your value to Him, the one who knows you deeply and loves you regardless of your flaws, awkward stumbles and poor midterm grades. You are invaluable. You are one of a kind. BUT, you’ll also probably kill the final so it’ll all be good. ;)
By Brielle Man
Being new to a city can be intimidating. Everything I knew as familiar was no longer surrounding me. This fall I transferred into UBC to study business, and the first few weeks were overwhelming and exhausting. Simple tasks like buying groceries, figuring out transit for school, and finding classes added up to create stress. Moving out is a momentous change, and although it’s a worthwhile adventure, the transition is tough. My first weekend at UBC I joined an orientation for first year and transfer business students. There were three hundred participants, and I was placed in a group with a dozen other transfer students. The orientation consumed my entire weekend, and I thought it was a waste of time because I didn’t instantly click with anyone. The following week I was behind in all my classes and I started to think I’d fail them (very dramatic, I know.) I was also complaining to God about how I missed my friends from home. I was numb from the endless small talk. I wanted to connect on a deeper level. I just wanted to talk about Jesus and faith, because those conversations just fill me with life. A couple weeks passed by and I realized one girl from my orientation group happened to be taking the same courses as me, which were highly unlikely circumstances given there is no standard time table. We ended up studying together frequently and bonding (read as: struggling) over our first Economics assignment. In a short few weeks we’d seen each other at low points, and during study breaks we got to know each other. We went out for dinner to celebrate completion of our assignment, and we somehow ended up talking about Christianity. She already knew I was a Christian, but after dinner she began to ask me questions about it. I told her I didn’t have all the answers but she’s always welcome to ask because I love to discuss tough questions. She opened up to me, stating she doesn’t really know anything about Him. But what caught my attention was her confidence in His existence. She shared how God has revealed Himself to her, and stories of God’s providence in her life. This gave me the opportunity to share why I believe in Christ, and afterwards she told me she loves hearing me talk about my faith. It was a huge encouragement to me. After our dinner, I laughed at myself for being impatient with God. I remembered that I need to intentionally trust Him every day, and how good He is. He knows exactly what we need. The conversation with my friend refreshed my love and hope in God. It reminded me that as a Christian, my purpose is to spread the good news of how Christ has won me over, and how Christ still wins me over every day.