Saturday, March 12, 2016

My college paper


I REMEMBER writing an ambitious paper for my English Literature class under Dr. Carlos Aureus, one of my favorite professors. I was an English Studies freshman, about the time when I had wanted to be a lawyer instead of a physician, which I’d ended up being. I enjoyed the 1 PM class at Palma Hall, and was inspired largely by Dr. Aureus, who spoke of books as if they were his friends, and who told me to read James Joyce’s Ulysses—and I did, but I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand it at all. I vented to him my frustration. He smiled at me, the way wise and old men do when confronted with harmless immaturity, and told me, “Well, that’s to be expected. Read it again when you’re older.”

For my paper, I tackled an important but profoundly difficult topic—human suffering. I quoted the book of Job, still one of the most fascinating, intriguing, and also comforting sections of Scripture, in the hope of shedding light on why men suffer. My conclusion was that God is sovereign. He allows men to suffer. If the act of allowing or prohibiting suffering were out of His hands, He has ceased to be omnipotent—and He is not the God that the Bible so describes.

I got high grades for that paper and for that class. As I look back at it now, I realize that my paper was impersonal, for I hadn’t really suffered much at that point. My life was so-so. I wasn’t starving, sick, or going insane. I was merely a college student, going through the motions of getting my college degree.

But these days are different. The struggle to trust in God and in His sovereignty over my life has never become more real.

And so I turn to the rich comforts that God provides for His children. I read, with a heavy and bowed heart, the hopeful prayer of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:20–23.

Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.



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