by Anne Ziegler
It’s the habit of people, unfortunately, to find reason to complain. Any time our normal schedule or expectations are disrupted, it can be all too tempting to react negatively. For students this year, dealing with the realities of COVID restrictions provides plenty of excuses to complain.
It has (and continues to be) a year full of uncertainties. How is social distancing working? Will masks really be required all semester? Will I get sick? What if schools decide to completely shut down?
And so, we turn to complaining, because that will make us feel better, right?
It turns out, griping won’t make us feel any better, nor is it biblical.
You can be a different student this coming fall. You can be a light for Christ. I want to charge you with being a student who praises God despite difficult circumstances, a student who rejoices and gives thanks for all things.
Embody hope this year. Hope is a difficult virtue to practice, I know. But we’re going to look at some practical ways you can exercise hope this fall.
Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul writes, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Paul’s life was wracked with hardship – he was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and rejected. Despite these trials, Paul wrote that he was “content.” What made him content? It is the hope of the gospel. It is the love and support fellow Christians extended to Paul.
Today in the 21st century, we are faced with different hardships, but we can respond to our trials in the same manner that Paul did because the gospel remains true forever. We still find eternal joy in God’s salvation and in His love and mercy.
Ask yourself, “how can I share this hope-filled gospel with others at school? How can I love others, despite the imperfect circumstances we are faced with?”
Even though school looks difficult this year, cling to God’s gospel. It’s the thing to be most thankful to God for. Try writing in a journal daily about why you are thankful. Share these reasons with your friends and ask them in turn for what they are grateful for.
Cultivate a Resilient Mindset
As the coming year progresses, no one can predict exactly what will happen. COVID restrictions may loosen or they may tighten even further. How are you preparing for these sudden changes?
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Do you trust that the Lord goes before you? And do you trust that He is sovereign, and all the events of the world are under His control?
Grow a mind of fortitude and bear with whatever may come next. God commands us in Joshua not to be afraid. We are not afraid because God goes before us. Be an example to others of someone who is anchored in the changeless, solid, and faithful rock of Christ Jesus.
You can expect that this school year will be different. Are you prepared for these differences? Put your strength in the Lord and trust Him to give you a heart of patience and resilience this year.
Trust in God’s Plan
In a time like this, it can feel like things are spiraling out of control, and God has abandoned us. Don’t let these emotions overcome you, but speak the truth of Scripture into your life.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Job 42:2 says, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
Sin is very prevalent in the world, but God is still sovereign over all. God has conquered sin, and He has promised to save all those who cling to him. Trust in God to keep you forever and trust in his plan.
Exercise Love and Good Deeds
Hebrews 10:23-24 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Think of ways that you can love your fellow students this fall. They may be scared, so comfort them. They may be bitter, so show them how to be thankful. How can you serve them? Can you be a friend to them by lending a listening ear, by praying for them, by letting them know that Christ loves them?
Your schools need you, more than ever. Whether you’re attending school in person, online, or somewhere in-between, Christ is calling you to be a light that shines for Him. He wants you to embody hope and to love others, just as He loves you.
COVID can’t stop God. And your good work as a Christian doesn’t have to stop either. Press on. People need Christ, and you can stand out as an ambassador of God’s love and hope in a culture in desperate need of it.