By Phoebe Shen
I was born into the church, so I have known who God and Jesus were for my whole life. However, until recently, that knowledge was just head knowledge. As a church kid, I went through the motions of going to Sunday worship, going to Sunday school, going to choir, going to our children’s fellowship, Kids for Christ, participating in Bible Drill, and then going to the junior high fellowship, Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Church used to be “the place I went to on Sunday and usually Friday and maybe another weekday” and had no other role than that. My home life was free of trouble. I am fortunate to have a loving family, and life was very pleasant and easy.
It was not until high school when I began to realize the true implications of the Christian faith and how much I truly needed God to be in my life. Before high school, I claimed to love God, but it was just lip service. My freshman year of high school was fun, but difficult as well. I was sick with pneumonia, and that frightening experience gave me a firsthand glimpse of the frailty of the human body and of God’s infinite mercy by allowing me to fully recover. Another difficulty I had was not another sickness, but something that now, as I reflect upon it, was much less serious but just as hurtful.
My difficulty is something that most people wouldn’t consider a difficulty. I had the opportunity to be on the school basketball team, but when I was on the team, I wasn’t even a bench player. I had to keep score! Despite being a devoted player who never got hurt or skipped practice to go to the mall, I was not even allowed to fully participate in the game I had dedicated myself to for a whole year. I felt so humiliated because of that demotion. That experience really damaged my self-esteem and my self-worth. There were times I would sit at home and wallow in self-pity and disappointment. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment, but God gradually opened my eyes to His love for me despite being a “loser who didn’t even make one shot during the whole season.” He truly became my God then.
Although I certainly wasn’t before, I am thankful I was able to feel that way. I am glad my stint on the basketball team didn’t amount to anything. It has been a blessing in disguise that I am not amazingly talented in school, athletics, or the arts. Otherwise, I would find myself dependent on those labels rather than on God. God has certainly transformed my immense disappointment into a way of opening my eyes to the troubles of this world and how, as a Christian, I was called to be “in this world, but not of this world.” I feel changed by this new knowledge not to live to receive the rewards of men, but to live for the One and only who will never let you go no matter how far you run.
There’s a song by Sanctus Real that gave me hope when I felt disappointed with my life. It says, “When I don’t fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere/When I don’t measure up to much in this life/Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ/’Cause I’m forgiven.” Even when I couldn’t score any points for the team, or when I turned my back on God, or when I sinned in my heart, God loved me. I am nowhere near the perfect child my parents, and most importantly, my God deserves, but He loves me as I am, and for that, all I can do is to love Him back with all of my heart. I wasn’t before, but I’m so thankful to God for giving Jesus to die for us to give us life and this infinite worth that does not come from mortal men, but an everlasting God.
God has the ability to take your disappointments and turn it into something for good. Are you willing to let go of what you have, both good and bad, and trust in God’s purpose for your life? As missionary Jim Elliot stated, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” I can attest, that giving up the world is infinitely worth it.
How has God changed you?