Don’t worry the learnings I posted here are not related to any of my Mathematics subjects. Read on! 😀
Last Saturday I graduated from my M.S. in Mathematics program which I started to take last May 2010. This has been such a sweet journey for me. I saw God’s faithfulness in my life as I completed the program. I really wanted to take-up PH.D in Mathematics and Statistics but I just know in my heart that God has called me into full-time ministry. The good thing is that God allowed me to finish my M.S. at least which was more than enough for me.
I really enjoy Mathematics (Advanced Mathematics) which is not what 99% of the world’s population would say HAHA! Even as I learned so much from the advanced Mathematics courses like Abstract Algebra, Linear Algebra, Combinatronics of Finite Geometries, Game Theory and other fields. This M.S. journey also taught and reinforced in me a lot of other intangibles which I know I’ll bring wherever God will lead me. Here are four intangibles that my M.S. taught and reinforced in me:
1) The power to create
This is also known as creativity but somehow that word is not associated much with Mathematics. The reason being is that people think Mathematics is a closed science, meaning there’s no more new discoveries in this field. This is a wrong mindset because Mathematics will never run out of things to discover. It’s been there ever since the dawn of time and will continue to have new fields and new discoveries as long as time is in existence.
When I started working on my Thesis, this was the most difficult part of my M.S. because for the other subjects: I just have to study my notes and make sure I pass the tests. For the Thesis however I have to produce something original. At first I was thinking how can I do that? Is it really possible? I started this year just brainstorming and thinking of ideas which I can use for my thesis. By the grace of God he led me to ideas and concepts which my Thesis adviser approved and allowed me to work on. I presented and defended my paper with no reference papers as a starting point. I got nervous when one of the panelists asked me for references, but I said that I didn’t have any and based my paper on the nature of my work. Praise God it was approved though!
Creativity is something that human beings are designed to do! After musing on this I remember that verse in Genesis saying:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27
We are created beings made after the image of a creator! God gave us the ability to create and be creative. Amazing! Of course I’m not saying that we can create out of nothing, only God can do that. 🙂
2) Thinking analytically
As someone who loves Mathematics and was an undergraduate of Statistics, I would think that I was already someone who thought analytically. When I was taking up this M.S. I realized that I was far far from someone who was one. The challenges and problems that my M.S. gave me was a far cry from the problem sets in College. I thought my M.S. in Mathematics was going to be easy but it was not. I really have to think hard and deep when we’re given problem sets. There were times that I’d almost give up but by God’s grace I didn’t go down without a fight.
This is a very powerful intangible for me because my boss would always tell us that we should always think about the things that we do. We ought to make sure that we have enough reasons and evidences whenever we’re going to initiate a new project or make a change. My training in my graduate course helped train my brain in thinking deeply and analytically. 🙂
3) The limitation of the human brain
I remember during the first term of my M.S. in Mathematics. We were given problem sets to solve. It was take home! I’d imagine all college students rejoicing whenever you have a take home exam. However, for those taking up M.S. in Mathematics. That may not automatically be good because whenever you have take home exams it only means that the questions will be way way harder that what will be given in a 3 hour test.
There are some questions that I’m not able to answer, it was just so difficult. The proofs of some questions can be seen online but even if I read the proof I still have a difficult time understanding it! We had a basic subject like Real Analysis which was just out of this world. There were moments wherein I thought to myself why did I ever take up this course!? It was so difficult!
I realized that our human brain has its own limitations. If for the field of Mathematics alone, which is a pure science and where subjectivity is almost null, how much more limited our human capacity is to understand the complexity of life! I’m reminded of the verse in Isaiah:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
There will just be some things that we will never fully comprehend because of our limitations. That’s a fact and the sooner we admit and surrender to that the more we’ll trust in God in his plans and purposes for our lives. In this life, understanding and science are good but both are limited. God never called us to try to understand all the complexities in the universe anyway. He calls us to trust in him.
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. – Proverbs 3:5-6
4) The grace and sovereignty of God
Relating this point to my two other previous points. The more limited I see myself the more I’d be reliant on the grace and sovereignty of God in my life. There were moments in my M.S. exams where I thought to myself “How can I possibly pass these subjects!?” They were just too complex and complicated. If a professor gives us a problem that are just out of our league I don’t know how we could have ever passed those exams. My Thesis got delayed for one year because of my work. It was very tough to manage both at one point. For three terms I would start out by saying “I’m going to start on my thesis” but for three terms there were no original ideas that were popping out of my mind. This 2014 I was able to start and finish it, but looking back and pondering on the journey of my thesis, I knew that I couldn’t have done it on my own. It was just the grace of God that I was able to finish my M.S.
That’s where I realized that it’s true that it’s not by our own works but it is the grace of God alone. The grace of God is the reason why we can do all the things that we do right now. We can never be too arrogant in life. Hopefully our response will be to continually thank him because of his grace in our lives. 🙂
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Hope you find these learnings helpful for you! Always trust and depend on the grace and sovereignty of God in your lives. That’s the best thing you can do in your life every single day for the rest of your lives. God bless! 🙂