It has been just over two weeks since Redeemer was forced to change everything in response to the COVID-19 crisis and it’s hard to imagine there was a time when I wasn’t looking forward to being in school. Looking back on my final semester, I spent a lot of my time in the library working on my thesis, studying for midterms, and writing essays. There were a lot of sleepless nights, and as the deadline for final assignments and papers approached, I would think to myself, “Ugh, I wish I could just fast-forward to graduation.”
Like many of my classmates, I am privileged enough to have access to technology, allowing me to complete my undergraduate degree from the safety and comfort of my own home. However, this does not diminish my anger and frustration from feeling “cheated” out of my last year of my undergraduate degree. We all had things we were looking forward to, senior recitals, arts showcases, Henry V, thesis presentations! It’s only natural to experience disappointment and resentment when you’ve dedicated so much of your time and energy into something only to have it taken away. Is there a way for us to reconcile and come to terms with the effects of COVID-19?
In the wake of the global pandemic a lot has surfaced in the Christian community, encouraging us to remember that we serve a God who is always in control. That amidst all the current uncertainties, we can be certain of the words in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. For me, it’s been less about questioning whether or not God is in control, and more about doubting the nature of His control. Countless times in the past few weeks, I have wondered how finishing my degree online and “hanging out” with my friends over FaceTime could possibly be better than the plans I had for my final year at Redeemer. If we are being honest with ourselves, it’s easy to doubt that God has our best interests in mind at a time like this.
Yesterday, I was feeling especially discouraged so I decided to go for a run to clear my head. It was really warm and sunny out but, after about fifteen minutes it began to rain, and I found myself caught in a sun shower. It struck me how this force of nature so accurately illustrated the season of life that we find ourselves in. Separated from friends and loved ones, worried about our own health and safety, stuck indoors, feeling restless and bored, these are the raindrops in our lives. When it rains, that’s all we tend to focus on, forgetting about the sunshine, the privilege we have to comfortably practise social distancing, our health, technology that allows us to stay connected and in community. There was no escaping the rain, no matter how fast I ran, I was going to get wet, and so it is with COVID-19. Regardless of my attempts, I am not able to escape the effects of this disease on my life. I won’t be able to see my friends in the hallways between classes or laugh at my professor’s jokes during lecture. However, there is still light, even in the rain we feel the presence of the Son. We have an ever-present hope that the God we serve is alive and at work in our lives and “that in all things He works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”