Well, if you’re anything like me, the past few weeks have brought upon a lot of devastating change, confusion, and frustration. In the wake of COVID-19, I think we all are experiencing loss. Whether that’s loss of precious community time, jobs or finances, or even loss of our plans we had previously made, we all are going through a time where loss and pain are at the forefront of our minds. For me personally, my loss at this time is the end of my senior year. Never would I have imagined the culmination of my formal education would be like this. However, there has been an overwhelming sense of peace that only God can bring about in this time. I know it is only through His power and guidance that I am getting through this and I hope I can provide you with some of that same encouragement and peace. So, I’ve laid out a few points that God has been continuously showing me during the past few weeks:
Give yourself time to grieve
While some of us may feel a sense of guilt for grieving over what may appear like small circumstances compared to others, you are allowed to grieve the things you have recently lost. For my fellow seniors, I think we can all agree that this is not how we intended to end our time in college. For some of us, our final seasons in our respective sports teams has been cut drastically short, for others, our final Spring Musical has been cancelled after months of rehearsals; for some of us, we may not get to be back on campus and enjoy the community again, and for all of us, our graduation may have to look different. At such a critical point in our lives where we are about to become fully adults, I’m sure many of you, myself included, feel a sense of anger toward the world and at God. I personally have been struggling with feelings that God has taken all this away from me. However, if I can offer you any type of encouragement, it’s not going to come in the form of “This too shall pass,” or “God has a reason for everything,” but just that God hears your heart and His is breaking right alongside yours. So, give yourself some time. Allow yourself to process. This has all been insanely hard and you deserve the right to be upset and grieve in the ways you need to. But also know that our God is a sovereign God who does not allow hardship to happen without joy or rejoicing. So, although it may seem like this just keeps getting worse and worse, try to see this time as an opportunity for you to allow God to teach you about true joy.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” - II Corinthians 12:10
Keep engaging your community
In this day and age, we are extremely lucky to have the capabilities to literally call, text, or FaceTime anyone from anywhere in the world. Even though face-to-face community may have taken a halt, please don’t let it die out. Call your friends, check up on them, and make sure they know we are all in this together. In a global crisis like this, the only way we get through is by standing together and building each other up.
Give your day some structure
I know as good as anyone that when things such as classes, our work schedule, or our normal routines are taken away, we sort of lose sense of what day it as and begin to fall into a funk. Instead of waking up halfway through the day and lying around the house, try to give yourself some structure. Have set times for reading, exercise, and maybe even going outside. If all you do is veg out around the house, transitioning back to your normal routine and every day life will be extremely hard. Having some structure will also keep you more occupied than simply binging every show Netflix and Hulu have to offer.
Take this seriously and stay healthy
While I myself have believed that some are blowing things out of proportion, I think many of us are just avoiding the fact that this virus is a serious matter. So, we need to all do a better job at keeping ourselves and each other healthy. Make sure you wash your hands, practice social distancing, and follow the CDC health regulations to ensure this virus cannot spread further.
While we have never seen anything like COVID-19 in our lifetime, there is no reason to panic. If anything, we should be viewing this pandemic as a time to fully place our courage and faith in the God who can control it all. There are exactly 365 “fear nots” in the Bible and I don’t think God intended for us to overlook them. We have a God who knows how scared we are about everything from the disease, to struggling finances, and the future as a whole. However, the Spirit of God is not one of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
If anything, we should be viewing this pandemic as a time to fully place our courage and faith in the God who can control it all.
Guys, I know these next few weeks may be the most challenging time we have all had to face during our lifetime, but we can get through this together with the power of God. At a time when it seems like everything is being stripped away and the world is coming to a halt, we have to remember to keep each other going. This is the time to be the Body of Christ to a world that is panic-stricken. While it may seem like there is little hope left, I assure you this virus will not last forever.
My last encouragement for you is to put your identity in Christ. I heard a beautiful reminder from Colossians that everything we do, we do as representatives of Christ. After everything we normally use to define ourselves has been taken or put on pause, our singular identity can still be found in Him. I hope that thought can carry you on throughout these next few weeks of social distancing.
Until the next time we all can run up to each other, enjoy laughter face-to-face, have coffee at Blue Hill and talk for hours, worship together and chapel, and experience life on a college campus together, I’m sending you all my love. Thank you for making my time at SWU the best four years of my life. I love you all from the depths of my heart.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
- II Corinthians 4:16-18