I previously wrote about having faith for computer repair, exploring the idea of what faith looks like in the areas of life where we have some apparent control.
Now I have another example of faith, with a twist.
I’m currently a graduate student in mathematics. The program is difficult for me and it makes me question whether or not I’m really a math person. The homework is never simple and straightforward; each assignment is a struggle for me. I’m just not getting it this semester; the content isn’t clicking with me.
Others in the class seem to be doing quite well; so I guess I can’t blame things on the professor.
Well, I realized the other day that my math class wasn’t an area of life where I was seeking the Lord in prayer, desperate for His blessing. I was trying to make a go of it in my own strength, and my repeated mediocre results still hadn’t gotten my attention.
My wife reminded me again last night–in the midst of me banging my head on the dining room table in a spell of frustration–that I hadn’t been praying for insight into the homework, that I hadn’t been asking for God to clarify my thinking and to bless my efforts at being a good student.
I replied to her that I doubted any of my classmates were praying about their homework, and they seemed to be doing just fine.
She responded with truth and insight: “That’s because it’s not something He’s trying to use to grow their faith.”
She was right (of course): God has me doing mathematics for faith, a chance to humble myself and trust Him in a very mechanical-looking pursuit.
We joke that this math degree is my hobby; I invest most of my free time in it, spend lots of money on it–but it’s not really much fun. It’s not very life-giving. It’s hard. Frustrating. Confusing. Discouraging.
I’m finally realizing that it’s not a hobby. This math program is a faith training course. It’s rigorous and painful, pushing me to the end of myself and utter desperation–which is right where I need to be to see God’s strength, provision, and blessing.
Control? You’d think I’d have a large amount of control over my studies; put effort in, get results out. But I see now that I don’t have any control; I can’t manufacture my math homework.
God’s got me in mathematics for faith.
The question is: do I have faith for mathematics?