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Words by VLB

The Unexpected

I just found out that my college life won’t be back to “normal” for another three weeks.

Actually, it feels like nothing will be back to “normal” for an indefinite amount of time.

I have an extra week of spring break, and two of online classes. Students, from kindergarten to college, are experiencing the same. Schools, workplaces, hospitals, grocery stores, and restaurants are all asking the same question: where do we go from here?

Meanwhile, on a much more individual scale, I’m asking myself the same questions. What does the future look like after this passes? What about my summer plans? How do I make the most of life in the midst of this chaos?

We’re seeing the world change with a week’s worth of news every single day. Everything that once was certain feels indefinite and in danger. And while feelings of fear are valid, they are not automatically accurate.

I think that in times like these, our emotional wellbeing should be a top priority. We’ve got to acknowledge our feelings to work through them appropriately. So it’s okay to admit, “I feel scared” or “I’m sad my plans have changed” or “I’m worried about my immunocompromised friends and family.”

These feelings are all valid. They’re understandable. They’re worth paying attention to. But we shouldn’t immediately let these feelings dictate our futures. There’s a big difference between living in extreme fear and taking necessary precaution. Be smart and safe and kind and follow regulations, but do not let COVID cause you unhinged anxiety.

It’s dangerous to confuse emotions with truth. I do it all the time. But the uncertainty we’re living in right now is a great opportunity to challenge this notion. To say, despite my anxious feelings, I know I still have a kind, loving, in-control God.

According to 1 John 3:20, the truth is that “God is greater than our worried hearts.” And 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” In times of chaos and uncertainty, those are the thoughts I want to hold on to.

The bottom line: God is greater. He gives us the courage we need. He is in charge of every detail. He is taking care of us.

Even when we don’t see it or feel it, God is working. Today I want to remind you that while COVID-19 may have derailed your plans, it did not derail God’s. He is in control, holding us, protecting us, and giving us wisdom. And this truth has to be greater than our fear if we want to find purpose in this season. Because even when the world turns upside-down, God still has a plan for you and me.

This spring looks different than I thought it would. But despite crisis, I still want to work toward my goals and honor my priorities in ways that respect authority and keep others safe. I am still pursuing time with God, connecting with others, running, writing, reading, and resting. It feels different. I'm processing shock and grief and pain. But I will keep trying to be the best version of myself, even in a pandemic. I believe God can still use us here.

In fact, if you’re stuck at home or stuck in fear, this could be a great opportunity to talk to God. To read that book you haven’t had time for. To cook from scratch. To exercise regularly. To journal. To look your family and friends in the eyes and connect with them. I understand there is hurt and hardship and uncertainty and sadness here. It's okay to let yourself feel those things, too. But try not to let your feelings destroy your hope.

God does nothing without purpose. While my emotions tell me to worry, I will trust in God’s sovereignty and strength, because He has come through time and time again.

It’s no secret that I haven’t been writing as much as I used to. But this morning, I was so glad I hadn’t published anything since early February. Because when I click on my blog editor, it automatically opens up my most recent post. Usually, this is an annoyance, but today, my own words blessed me big time.

“We fantasize about the future as if we are guaranteed all wishes to come true, each one according to our schedule. We don’t account for mess-ups, mistakes, and unforeseen life events. And in this process, we trick ourselves into believing we’re in charge of change.”

I want to share these words from that post not to promote myself, but because they gave me a peace that I’d like for you to experience with me. I wrote these words with comparatively small life-changes in mind. But now, in the context of the Coronavirus, they matter in a whole new way.

We often think we’re in charge, in both small life decisions or long-term plans. COVID-19 is just another example that proves we don’t have nearly as much control as we think we do.

A few days ago, I held much more of my future as absolute than I do now. I thought I would go back to school for the second half of spring semester. I never questioned if my friends and family would stay safe and healthy. I had spring and summer plans set in stone.

But if this season teaches us nothing else, we must learn: we are not in charge. In this small stuff and the big stuff. This feels like a scary reality, but it’s actually a really cool opportunity for surrender.

While we aren’t in control of much, but we can choose how we respond. We can believe that God is with us even in crisis, or we can believe that our hope is in our feelings, plans, and health. Let’s put our hope in something greater than ourselves.

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