By Sophia Eberwein
“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” –Mark 4:37-41
I always dreamed of going to the University of Chicago, but my parents, family and friends questioned my decision. They told me I wasn’t intense enough, or that I should choose a place where I would be closer to home in Connecticut or where I would have more fun. What they didn’t understand, however, was that God had placed the University of Chicago in my heart. For what reason, I did not know.
During my senior year of high school, I lost sleep worrying if I would get into the University. I wished God would tell me where I would be attending school next fall. One night, I heard the voice of the Lord reassuring me that He would provide for me. Those were the most calming words I had heard in months. It was as if God had said to me, as He said to His disciples in Mk. 4:39, “Peace! Be still.” Sure enough, In December 2020, a few days before Christmas, I was accepted into the University of Chicago.
In the course of answering my prayer and fulfilling His calling for me, He had also put my faith to the test. I felt like the disciples in Mk. 4:40 when He asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
I was called out by God. My lack of faith had been exposed. The God who sent His one and only Son and who loves me with His whole heart knew I didn’t trust Him fully. I was reminded, through Scripture, that I should not feel shame, and that I should take this experience as a reminder to rely on God’s plan for me: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Since arriving at the University of Chicago, my faith has been tested in many ways. During my first year I questioned and doubted God. I grew angry at Him as I sank into depression after my first quarter at school. I felt lost and hopeless. As I considered transferring or taking time off school, I was reminded of God’s promise of provision for me. I reluctantly started school again in January and began to see glimpses of why God had called me to the University of Chicago: to deepen my faith by teaching me to continually place my trust in Him.
In my most recent trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, I was deeply moved by Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Seascape. With beautiful strokes of green, blue and indigo, Seascape reveals a pristine ocean untouched by the modern world. I could not help but think of the story of Jesus calming the storm when I thought of this painting. Seascape is a prompt for us all to put our trust in the Lord, the one who can calm even the deadliest of storms.