Yes, Study Hard But Don’t Let It Swallow You Alive

I am in my last eight months of graduate school! Lord-willing, I’ll be able to finish by April next year! To be honest, I have had thoughts for the past year of finishing my requirements just to get it over with. It even crossed my mind to quit! But I am often reminded as well that I won’t make it to my thesis semesters today without God’s grace, provision, wisdom and strength. 

I opened up about why I am taking my Masters right now in a post I called, “God’s No is A Beautiful Redirection”. Then I wrote a little bit about my first semester in a post entitled “God vs. Studies & Why It Shouldn’t Even Be A Battle In The First Place”. I realized that it has been so long (more than two years ago) since I wrote an entry about my Graduate School journey, so here’s one for today.

I was recently asked by a freshman student-athlete, “Ate, how do you do it?” She was referring to the hats I wear. 

I responded, “It’s never about me. It’s all God’s grace and mercy.” I’d be REALLY stupid (emphasis intended) to claim anything that only God is able to do in/for my life. It is only Jesus who can feed thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fish thus He is the only one capable of multiplying resources such as time. 

But if given another chance to expound on this to her, I will share with her these two things.


It’s not about your schedule or what you can finish out of your schedules. Remember: Acknowledgement of God, not burnt offerings.

In a culture of busyness, it is easy for anybody to take pride in what he or she does. Effectiveness and productivity can easily become an idol today — even a badge of honor to some. This is the reason why many students today can easily be proud of not having enough sleep because of school deadlines or being so stressed out/consumed by the difficulty of their school requirements. 

I used to be guilty of these, too. In fact, if I let my guard down (i.e., not praying as much and as deep or not depending on God with things), I can easily get swallowed up by school deadlines and requirements. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying to accomplish things, given our short-lived life on earth. Ephesians 5:15-16 even says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” 

But the truth is: What do we really accomplish when we are not walking with Jesus? What is the value of the to-do lists we tick when those things are not for His glory but our self-fulfilment? What is it that we are trying to finish when it is not eternally-contributing? What do we really accomplish when how we do things is based on our works and not according to our faith?

We are also called to perform well and do our best to work on the tasks given to us as though we are doing it for God and not for human masters (Colossians 3:23) BUT we also have to be reminded that the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6). The Lord desires that we do it not for performance but for His glory

I am recently inspired by David’s words in Psalm 27: 

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” 

If there is one thing, just ONE thing, that David would like to ask from the Lord, it is to be with Him, to know Him, to just see His face and stare at Him, and to dwell in His house all the days of his life. David wants just one thing: The Lord Himself. 

I am not saying that asking God for wisdom like what Solomon did (1 King 3) is wrong. In fact, God is pleased when we ask Him for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” However, if the transcript of our prayers are only full of being productive and effective for work, school or ministry then maybe it’s time to be reminded of David’s one thing. 

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If you’re only trying to finish school for the sake of getting a degree or title, you’re missing the point of education. 

Solomon says, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Students like me can very much relate to this. All-nighters, memorizations of terminologies, reading requirements and crammed papers are no joke. But Solomon goes on by saying that there are more important things than merely amassing knowledge — that is, fearing God and obeying Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). 

I am in no way saying that education is not important. Of course, it is important! In fact, Jesus Himself assimilated knowledge as a man. Luke 2:52 says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” 

However, if the point of getting educated is just to get an education/degree/diploma then there’s a shallowness there that one must defeat. The point of getting educated, no matter how seemingly dreading or ambitious it is, should still be anchored on God’s life-giving, eternally-purposeful will. Why? Because even if we are in an academic setting, trying to finish a degree, we are not students first. 

There are a lot of self-help resources out there in terms of studying efficiently. There are a lot of motivational speakers you can watch or listen to in order to be encouraged to finish school. However, as helpful as these resources can be, there will be times when students can get swallowed up by school work as though time or strength isn’t enough no matter how hard they try to manage it.

Therefore, at the end of the day, what will keep us going is the reason why we are studying in the first place. If “what will keep us going” is not clear, it will be easy to start questioning why we are going through the stress of studying. But if we understand what God’s purpose for our lives is, we will be able to view studying as just a part of God’s character-building and sanctifying process items. 

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