“Faith is about trusting God when you have unanswered questions.” ― Joel Osteen.
In the fall of 2016, I left Nigeria to take on a Master’s degree in International Relations at a University in Norway. I was excited and looked forward to a splendid life far different from the one I left behind. As days turned into weeks and weeks to months, however, my dreams of a colorful and brighter future were fast becoming bleak. There I was, alone in a strange land. I had no job, relatives, or friends, I struggled to find my daily meals. The thoughts of the big fat debt I incurred for my travel — collecting interest by the minute— consumed me. Every step I took seemed I was walking against the wind. I had to make some drastic changes.
Taste and See
No one told me life was going to be this hard. In despair one day, I asked, is the bible really true? Is there any truth to its claims? Can I count on Psalm 34:8 Which says to taste and see that the Lord is good? “I need a change so badly and I will do whatever it took,” I thought to myself. “I will make studying the bible and praying, a priority every day,” I said to myself. Not long after I embarked on this adventure, I started noticing something. I noticed a change in my thought process. I was becoming aware of my thoughts, and the thoughts of God about me and others. Like one who just learned a new language, I could now tell when God instructs me. The daily words and thoughts I heard from God helped me turn my countless worries about groceries, bills and my debts to Him. Moreso, the more I spent time in prayers, the less I felt the need to worry
Obedience, a Test of Faith in God
About my second year of studies, the Lord brought my attention to the few teenagers at the church. I felt the teenagers weren’t catered for and I sensed that the Lord would have me speak to my pastor about it. I hesitated at first, but when I couldn’t resist the Lord’s prompting any further, I told my pastor my thoughts to see the teenager mentored more closely. My pastor welcomed the idea, however, he said: “There’s no one to take on the responsibility, would you take on the responsibility?”
Starting this group was challenging to say the least. We had only two teenagers show up at the start and it didn’t make sense to organize meetings just for the two of them. I continued regardless— in the rain, sun, or snowy because I realized it was the Lord’s desire.
About this same time too, the Lord instructed me to start a weekly prayer meeting at the church. The pastor embraced this idea as well, but only a handful of people were open to this, so very few attended. On many occasions, I was the only one present at the meetings —this made absolutely no sense to me— however, I knew I shouldn’t stop just yet.
I tried all in my power to be present at all the meetings —I took Fridays off to give more time to both the teenagers’ fellowship and the prayer meetings. Meanwhile, at this point in my life, many uncertainties were piling up. Here I was approaching the end of my studies yet I had no clue what my next steps would be.
More Weights Stacked up
The months that would follow were stacked with even more trial weights. My visa was expiring in a few months, yet as I applied for jobs, dead quietness was all I received. I explored all possible options by applying for a PhD. studies in several countries as well. About four months to the expiration of my visa, I got an offer to do my PhD. in Scotland. Yeah!!! I was stunned by this offer as I didn’t feel qualified for it. Though elated by the news, somewhere inside me, I didn’t feel it was the right step for me at this point —One more request of clarity added to my many requests.
At my Wits End
I kept on applying for jobs but by May 2019, I became distraught by the negative replies or should I say the dead silence from the companies. I was at my wit’s end or so I thought until the Lord asked me to quit my job at McDonald’s. “Quit my job, Lord, is this you speaking?” I convinced myself I was making this up. Though this job wouldn’t renew my visa, it sufficiently settled my bills. “But I have no other source of support Lord,” I thought. No, I did not obey, at least not that fast. My reluctance to obey came with a cost. I became sick and had such excruciating back pain from the job that I had to quit.
Now, with more time left to spare, I spent my days praying, meditating and applying for professional jobs. I had time for church meetings — but still no job.
My Groceries Paid for
I saw untold miracles during this time without a job. I recall one cool afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store to get some biscuits. Just as I headed out of the store, an elderly man whom I’ve met before walked up to me. He said: “The Lord asked me to pay for your groceries,” I stood there bemused. Not sure if I should cry in shock or laugh in excitement. “I don’t have much left at my house”, I thought to myself in amazement. I was quite embarrassed by his outlandish offer and almost shied away from the offer. Thankfully, he persisted. I returned home that day with a big bag full of groceries. My Landlord at some point wouldn’t even ask for his monthly bills. What was happening?
My Debts Paid
The Lord miraculously cleared my debts too. I got a report a certain week from the Norwegian Tax Office that my annual tax for the previous year was short of 12000 Kr ( $1700). What a time to owe the government? I was unhappy. “This is too much for me to bear” I whined. Again, I turned to God in prayer and He showed me what to do. His instructions were simple:
1. Write down all your debts on a list (amounting to Norwegian krone 17,000Kr – a little over $2,800 Can dollar )
2. Thank me for providing.
I did just that. My friends, before the end of that week, the Lord instructed someone to send me exactly 17,000kr. Incredible? Exactly, I was dumbfounded! I then looked back and realized that though I wasn’t working, God sufficiently met all my needs. The Lord needed me to focus on Him, serving him and others.
Job Search Continues
No, my need for a job didn’t vaporize. Following the disappointments from my many job rejections, I almost lost hope and thought to pursue the Ph.D. offer instead. The problem? The University didn’t release my funding. Anxiety began to swell as I mulled over the possibility of being sent back home. Ever so often as I meditate on God’s words, His promises reassure my heart with peace like one observing fresh red roses dancing on water. However, I remained clueless.
It was a crisp evening when I visited a friend who had just put to bed. “No news yet” was my response to my friend’s question about my permit and job. Out of concern, my friend referred me to her friend who later sent me two job vacancies she found online. “How is this any different from my previous job applications?” I bemoaned. Reeeluuuctaantly, I summoned some energy and courage to apply for only one of the jobs. About one week later, I received a phone call requesting me for an interview. “This has never happened,” I exclaimed! I was startled at the thought that I almost lost this opportunity.
The interview went well. At first, the interviewers asked general questions and then asked how I’d been involved with youths. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to tell of my countless experiences working with youths. The interviewers’ countenance glowed as I passionately narrated my involvement with youths. I had a feeling that I impressed the interview panel. A few days after the interview, I received a call from the HR department of the company informing me that I’d been offered the job; my contract was sent shortly after that.
I realized that God instructed me to start the youth work not only because of the church or the teenagers but also for myself. God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and He knew I would need to leverage on that experience to get my job. I eventually got my work permit despite the hurdles and I can only look forward to the glorious future the Lord has for me in this land. Praise the Lord! God is a good Father.
As I write and think about this story I can’t help but ask myself and if you will you too, these:
Are you and I intentionally putting in our best foot to listen and hear God’s instructions for us regarding parenting, singlehood, career, business, finances…
Have we been struggling in our healths, relationships, business or studies because we plainly are too busy to sharpen our blades?
Do we persist and continue to do the right things we know to do?
See the Lessons I Learned
- Every challenge and hardship we face is an opportunity to engage deeper; It is a calling to taste and see God’s goodness (Psalm 34:8).
- “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the ax” —Abraham Lincoln said. We accomplish much more quickly as we sharpen our blades through prayer, meditating on the Word, and obedience. Eccl 10:10
- When the clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth —Diligence and persistence is the key to reaping all the blessings God has for us. Eccl 11:3.
- God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Hebrew 11:6
— Submitted by Taiwo from Norway
We’d love to hear your stories and chat with you in the comments below. God Bless You.