Sometimes it feels like things are getting out of hand around here. School moved online, churches live-streaming services, weddings canceled, funerals postponed, unemployment skyrocketing, families falling apart, and entire communities reeling in the aftermath of spring storms — what will happen next?
Many of you have been personally affected by these events. I have certainly felt the effects myself. Only weeks ago, my life was a balancing act. I was busy juggling part-time work, full-time school, preparation for graduation and a life to come, and wedding planning. My fiancé and I were to be married the day after we both graduated from college. But in just two days, my life turned upside-down. I got the email that college was moving online on a Thursday morning, and I still remember the shock that stuck in my throat. Within an hour, I had lost my job, my last eight weeks of college life, my graduation celebration, and my wedding. The next day, I boarded a plane for home, dazed, disappointed, and disheartened.
Within an hour, I had lost my job, my last eight weeks of college life, my graduation celebration, and my wedding. The next day, I boarded a plane for home, dazed, disappointed, and disheartened.
The last few weeks have been a blur. The transition to online learning felt like a different semester, but there was no excitement of new classes and no motivation to start strong. Without a job, I have a lot of extra time on my hands to think, and my thoughts often turn to my dreams for a beautiful wedding weekend, filled with family and friends. Time and again, I imagine the romantic honeymoon my fiancé was to surprise me with. It would have been somewhere tropical and warm, not at all like the cool, rainy weather we are having at home.
Three weeks ago, my fiancé and I made the decision to elope. We have to get through this time either way, so why not do it together? I am thankful we made the decision, but it sure felt like we were giving up hope. What girl hasn’t dreamed her whole life of that beautiful white dress, of being surrounded by her best friends and family, and of walking down the aisle with her father to meet the man of her dreams? My day looked a little different, gloving up to meet the commissioner in her back yard with only two family members allowed. I wondered, “Why does this all have to happen to me? Why can’t all my dreams come true? When will life go back to normal?!”
Hope is surely just around the corner. The word on the street is that stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders will be lifting over the next few weeks. Desperate workers will get their jobs back, the school year will come to an end, and offices and stores will open their doors again. But is that all I am waiting for? Am I just waiting for all of this to blow over so that life can return to “normal?” Or is there something more to all of this?
Am I just waiting for all of this to blow over so that life can return to “normal?” Or is there something more to all of this?
The scriptures make it clear that God does not allow trouble in our lives without a reason. Job, who arguably went through more than most of us ever will, comforted himself with these words: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NKJV). And the apostle James appeals in his letter, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, NKJV). So, our God has a plan in all of this. He wants to use this crazy time to make us more like Him.
I was thinking the other day, wouldn’t it be a tragedy if I came out the other end of this and I was the same person? Wouldn’t it be a waste, if after all the trials and difficulties we have been through, we are just as self-centered, just as greedy, just as impatient, just as prideful as before?
But it doesn’t have to end this way. One day, we can look back on this time and say, “I am who I am today because of the lessons God taught me through the coronavirus pandemic.” We have to let Him change us, though. Instead of spending our extra time surfing the internet, we should spend it in the Word of God. Instead of anxiously awaiting the day when our social lives blossom, we should be socializing with our Best Friend. Instead of sleeping in on Sabbath morning, we should get up and find ways to connect with others in Bible study and prayer. Although it may seem like a sacrifice, God has promised, “[My Word] shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11, NKJV).
Though all hope is gone, stand firm, and go forth in the strength of Christ, and we will each come forth from this time “as gold.”