Hannah Boyer [FLBC, second-year student] is a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schwer, Milford, Ill.
My first year at the Free Lutheran Bible College was amazing. I learned a lot about the Bible, was able to study God’s Word daily, and grew closer to Christ. When I returned home, I had people tell me that I had changed so much and seemed significantly happier—and I was. So, when this changed, I was scared. Like many others, COVID-19 canceled my plans, specifically my plans of being on a summer ministry team teaching vacation Bible school. Instead, I was faced with being home for months. During this time, I started to lose the happiness I previously had. I was scared because I did not know how to make myself joyful again.
What I failed to realize was that I could not find true joy by myself—it is a fruit of the Spirit that God gives to us. The reason I grew in faith during my first year of college was due to God’s handiwork, not my own. When I realized this, I began to see my joy and faith in a whole new light. I had been fighting against how God wanted me to grow because I was scared to hand over full control to Him. But when I did let go of the control I was clinging to and gave it all to Him, it was liberating. I do not have to worry anymore because I know that God has a plan, and His plan is perfect.
Part of His plan was spending last summer at home. I was alone most days, and while at first I was sad and lonely, God used this time of solitude to make me realize His steadfastness. Christ is always there with and for you even when it feels like you have no one. He is the only constant that we have in this world. From this, God showed me that I was trying to find my happiness and joy in things that were not Him. So, it is no surprise that I felt sad and lonely. Everything in this world will let you down. The person who will not let you down is Christ. I truly found my joy in Christ this summer because He made it clear to me that all I need is Him.
I was originally striving for happiness and thought that I could not be joyful if I was not happy. I had never separated the two feelings. Happiness can be fleeting, but joy in Christ is constant. We can have joy in any situation because of what Christ has done for us. Christ died for us and took our sin so that we could have life in Him. This is all His work because we could never have saved ourselves. We can rejoice and have joy because of what He has accomplished.
While it may not have been the summer that I was planning, I am extremely grateful for the summer I had. God’s plan is not always what we want, but it is for the best. God used this summer to help me grow in ways that I never could have accomplished on my own. He gave me joy that I could not have found or attained myself. God is so good! I know that God will continue to work on and in me until the day that Christ comes back and all is made new as Paul writes in Philippians 1:6. I encourage you to hand over the reins of control to God and let Him lead you because you will not be disappointed in the work that He can and will do in you and through you.