Forty-One Ten

by joanabagano

I remember that day vividly.

It was the third morning of my first year in UP and the feeling of loneliness was overwhelming. Thoughts of why I had bravely decided to move away and study six hours away occupied my mind.

The dorm room had an eerie feel to it. It was dark, the walls looked abandoned and cobwebs and dust had gathered on corners. There were four beds and only two were occupied. One of them was mine.

My room mate left early for enrollment. I was alone inside the room and in a few hours, I would be preparing for a freshie welcome at my college.

I took a bath as fast as I could because the bathroom was more creepy than the dorm rooms. I dressed up early, not wanting to get late for the event.

Before leaving the room, I decided to read my Bible. It had been a long time since I made time to read it and this one morning, God told me He missed me.

I didn’t know where to start and so I asked Him to let my hands flip to the pages where He wanted to lead me.

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

This verse jumped right at my eyes where I flipped the gold-lined pages. It was a verse I knew from Sunday school, however, it was more real to me that morning than any of the days before.

I thanked Him, knelt down and asked for His strength. There is always that humility that comes in kneeling down, in acknowledging how weak your knees are, how weak your whole body is and how much You need Him to give You the strength You need. When I stood up, I was ready to face the world…and Winnie Monsod.

This has been my verse for the last two years. It has been His promise to me in the beginning and as His promises are eternal, so is this promise mine until now.

Now that I’m faced with total uncertainty. Now that even if the dorm room is already bright, darkness is starting to cover my sight. Now that even if I have a lot of friends, I still feel alone. And that this fight has always excluded them.

But God is telling me, “No, child.”

I met with a friend on Thursday because I so wanted to talk to her. My academics is currently on the rocks and I am in danger of getting expelled from my college. When she came to meet me at our college’s atrium, I was doing org work. And so she waited.

She shared the same verse to me. God wanted me to remember His promise. Two years and I forgot, two years and still, He remembered.

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Last night, I lost the strength in my knees. After worship at the youth service last night, the exhortation was the same.

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah
41:10

I didn’t hear the rest of the exhortation, I just knew that God wanted me to put this verse in mind.

I have been fearing the future and what will happen in case I’d have to leave the college I have learned to love. He put His word in my heart and calmed me, saying He is with me.

The past month has been a burden and a disappointment with all the blue books coming in. Maybe that’s why they’re called blue books — they make you feel blue. But no, God is telling me that He is my God. The blue book is not my God. The professor is not my God. The college is not my God. He is. And He is above them all.

Weakness has been getting the best of me. I stopped reciting in PolSci class because of a careless commentary I did on a reading. The professor and probably my classmates have forgotten all about it but I’m still condemning myself, which shouldn’t be the case. My pride has gotten the best of me. I need to learn.

He has humbled me and put me so low, so low, that I even feel I am already six feet under. And it’s all because He wants me to bury myself and just put an end to all this self-righteousness and pride. He wants to lift me up. He wants me to acknowledge His part in all of this because actually, His part should be everything. I don’t need to try to lift myself and my grades up. He will be the one to do it with his righteous right hand. And it’s not for me as well, but for Him.

In the end, it has never been about me. Never been about my fears, my weaknesses, my circumstances or even my strengths or talents. It’s about the God who is using all of these elements to produce a story, a testimony that will reveal His glory and sovereignty. And until we realize and recognize who He is and what He can do through us, we will always fear. We will always be dismayed. We will stay weak.

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah
 41:10

And just like two and a half years ago, I’m ready to face the world…and Winnie Monsod because I’m not leaving my college. She will become my professor. And I will tell her that my God has made me strong.

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