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Kay's Journey to Faith

As an ambitious and confident college graduate, Kay longed to travel to a western country and explore the world. On her 23rd birthday, her dream came true. She was accepted by a university in the States to pursue a graduate degree in accounting.

Like many other international students, Kay had had little exposure to Christianity in her home country. Her family was well-to-do, and she had a great life (at least from the outside), but she always had a sense of gnawing emptiness in her heart. A perfectionist, Kay was often disappointed with herself, with her family and people around her, or with how things turned out. In school, when she got an A, she would be disappointed that she didn't get an A+. When she did get an A+, she would still feel bad because she was not the only one in her class who got it!

One day, Kay read an article about the 1848 California Gold Rush. According to this article, the Gold Rush attracted many prospectors who thought they would get rich. Then they learned that “all that glitters is not gold.” The glittering rock known as “fool's gold” was actually the relatively worthless mineral, iron pyrite. Many people's dreams faded when they learned this fact. Reading this article, Kay realized that disappointments like this have many parallels in life. She began to wonder: Why hope for things if they are only going to break your heart?

As a student, Kay experienced her share of challenges. She was young and single; she lost her car three months after she bought it; her grandfather became seriously ill and passed away, and she was not able to return home to see him for the last time. On top of everything else, her boyfriend left her for another girl! Fortunately for Kay, some Christians who genuinely cared for her, invited her to Friday night Bible studies. The studies included discussions about discouragement and disappointments in life. She found the biblical stories of Joseph and Job fascinating—about how they dealt with their challenging circumstances.

Kay wondered how she might rise above discouragement and disappointments like Joseph and Job. Joseph had been sold as a slave by his brothers who were jealous of him, put in prison on false testimony, and held in prison because his ex-fellow inmate did not remember him as he had promised. Kay knew this must have been very disappointing to Joseph. And Job? In one day, he lost everything he owned, including his children! Then adding to his pain was his physical sickness that left him so scarred that his friends didn't even recognize him. Amazingly, in the midst of this disaster, Job said, Though He slay me, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15).

Kay knew that she did not have the wisdom and strength Joseph and Job had. Her friend in the Bible study group wisely pointed her to God's promises in Isaiah 41:10: Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. As she meditated on these promises, Kay realized that, though she had a great life from the outside, her focus on herself blocked her relationship with God and prevented her from drawing closer to Him. She continued to learn scriptures, and she understood that God created her to reflect Him—not to draw attention to herself. Indeed, her worth was not determined by her performance or her career advancement!

She also came to realize that God was with her all the time, in both good and bad circumstances. The assurance of God's presence gave her a greater freedom and power in life. So, one Friday night, with the wise counsel of her friend, Kay embraced Christ as her Savior and Lord. And for the first time in her life, she was able to love life and be herself.

Today Kay's journey of faith continues. She is resting in God's promises. When her friends follow materialistic pursuits and worldly pleasures and she is left out, God assures her that she was chosen by Him. When she feels anxious about her relationships, God assures her that He is with her. And when she is discouraged in the pursuit of a true love relationship, God assures her that He is her God, ready to help with His mighty right hand.

Knowing she is a child of God, Kay lives with a deep sense of meaning and identity. She is presently studying for her PhD in material science, and has become a key student leader in her Bible study group. When others ask how to handle challenges and disappointments in life, she tells them, “Hope in God in all circumstances, because God is good all the time!”

(Kaili Zhang is Ministry Representative of International Students, Inc. of New Zealand. She is a senior lecturer in education and a freelance educational consultant.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20160205
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Apr-Jun 2016. CCMUSA.