I began this semester with pretty low expectations.
Senior year…in a pandemic. Virtual classes and a shortened semester that seemed to make the most basic assignments more difficult. Sorority recruitment and bid day via Zoom. Masks and quarantining and lots of hand sanitizer. Socially-distanced football games. None of the traditions I’d been so excited to experience as a senior.
How could this semester possibly be good?
I’m a naturally optimistic person, but for a moment 2020 changed that. I didn’t let myself get excited about the future because I was afraid of yet another cancellation. I romanticized the past, as if my college experience was always flawless and easy before the word “pandemic” came into my daily vocabulary (not true, by the way).
In the midst of worldly disappointment, I forgot about God’s consistent ability to work all things together for good. I let uncertainty and division and the news tell me about my life instead of trusting the Lord to provide. I compared my pandemic reality to the “perfect” senior year I’d been sold on social media.
All of this added up to a low-grade pessimism humming constantly in the back of my mind. But then, something unexpected happened. Even with the cancellations and COVID-19 scares and general confusion of this semester, I had fun. I felt loved. I celebrated others and they celebrated me. I grew and I watched others grow. I felt peace and fulfillment and joy — even in these circumstances.
Even though I saw my semester from a pessimistic perspective, God still let me experience His kindness. He gave me countless tiny reminders that He is in charge, even in a world that is broken and divided and messy. Even though I doubted, God still worked my semester out for good, just like Romans 8:28 promises.
Does this mean my semester was perfect? Far from it.
Am I still sad about the ways life looks different than I thought it would? Yes.
But I am exiting the first semester of my senior year different than I entered it. While the state of the world is still overwhelming and uncertain, I am more hopeful. I am remembering what’s always been true…while the world has changed, God has always been the same.
He is always in charge of all things, even a pandemic (Isaiah 14:24).
God uses our struggles to produce steadfastness and maturity in us, and this season is no different (James 1:2-4).
There is nothing (not even a virus or political tension or my daily anxiety) that can separate me from His perfect love (Romans 8:38-39).
As I reflect on the first semester of my senior year, I see that God was in control the whole time. He always has been and always will be. It’s always been true, and nothing the future holds can change that.
This semester, I learned that God’s goodness is not dependent on my attitude. He continues to lavish love and kindness and gentleness and peace on me, even when I don’t see it. He’s always working behind the scenes, even when I don’t have answers. He never leaves me alone.
Regardless of what your semester felt like, my prayer is that for one moment, you will remember what was true before this pandemic and what will be true forever after: God works things together for good. He is in control. He is with us. He is for us.
Even here. Even now.