An Open Letter to Students

Dear students,

Where do I begin? The past several weeks have surely been stressful for you. You might not be able to process what you’re even thinking right now.

Perhaps you feel like a heavy burden is weighing down your heart and your mind.

Perhaps you feel like a dark cloud is looming over your head or your home.

Perhaps you feel like a huge question mark is staring you in the face because the future is so unknown.

Everything Is Different Now

The coronavirus is changing everything, including our lives as students. You know this full well, I’m sure. It didn’t take very long to find out.

You found out that the coronavirus is changing everything when your professor announced that classes will continue online…but his face kept freezing on your screen during his first lecture.

You found out that the coronavirus is changing everything when your best friend met with you over Zoom instead of seeing you at school…but all you could hear was a cold, muffled voice.

You found out that the coronavirus is changing everything when you had to start doing classes in your bedroom…but your six siblings make it impossible to get anything accomplished.

No longer can we talk to our teachers in person when we have questions. No longer can we meet with a group to discuss an upcoming project or presentation. No longer can we hang out with friends in between classes or after school. Boy, I miss that.

I miss the laughter of my friends, the smiles of my classmates, and the chatter of the cafeteria. I miss the voices of my professors, the jokes of the class clowns, and the greetings of the college staff. I miss the noise, the calm, and the in-between.

We don’t realize what we love until it’s gone.

Welcome to the New “Normal”

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be okay with an extended “break” from college, I would have said yes without hesitation. But now, I can tell you that it’s been a huge adjustment. I’m still trying to make life “normal.”

Before I left for spring break, there had been rumors that students would have to do classes online for the rest of the semester. In the back of my mind, I knew it was possible. But I didn’t know it would become reality. The night before I left for break, I said goodbye to a dear friend and told her that I’d see her in two weeks.

I haven’t seen her (in person) for way more than two weeks. So I was wrong—and it’s okay to be wrong. It’s normal to not be okay with this. You don’t have to make life “normal” simply because the current situation seems abnormal—perhaps it could even be described as chaos.

Of course, I don’t think you should give up hope. But you shouldn’t pretend to be God either. You can’t change this pandemic. As much as your heart longs to transform this chaos into order, it’s simply impossible.

God will let us experience the painful consequences of sin. He will allow us to hurt if it draws us closer to Him. He will allow us to be uncomfortable so that we learn to knock the idol of comfort off its high place in our lives.

I don’t know what uncomfortable things you’ve been facing lately. Maybe your upcoming graduation was cancelled. Maybe your boyfriend broke up with you because long-distance relationships are too hard. Maybe your best friend hasn’t responded to your texts or invitations to Skype. Maybe your brother is really sick, and you’re scared he has the coronavirus.

Dear friend, I can’t make your graduation happen, I can’t give you a new boyfriend, I can’t get your friend to respond to you, and I can’t heal your brother. I can’t understand why those things are happening to you, but God understands full well. And He wants you to persevere in spite of the pain.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12 NASB)

This coronavirus pandemic is so much bigger than us. I don’t mean its strength or its affect on our lives. I mean that the way we respond to it now can have an eternal impact.

Now isn’t the time to give into despair, isolate yourself, or mope around. Now is the time to press on, encourage others, and cling to Jesus. Because no matter how hard the next few weeks may be, they aren’t wasted. The time spent at home with your family, the time spent in virtual classes, the time spent chatting with friends via text, the time spent in God’s Word and in prayer…it means something. In fact, it means everything.

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