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As president of a faith-based liberal arts university, guiding students in the midst of COVID-19 presents a difficult and unique challenge. While the semester was on its way to wrapping up, just weeks from graduation, we had to make some very difficult decisions as most schools across the globe were forced to.
The spread of the coronavirus has derailed plans for nearly everyone. It has postponed weddings and funerals, delayed graduations and celebrations. This pandemic has thrown a wrench into every simple and large plan we could typically rely on in any other season.
While there is the notion that most college students are unaware of the real dangers of this virus, spending spring break carelessly on the beach, most students are actually quite frightened of the uncertainty that this means for the future. Everything they have known to be normal and reliable is now unknown. To many students, it presents even more questions and doubts about what the future holds for them.
For all of us who profess to have our hope in Christ, our faith is being tested in these moments.
As I have navigated how to lead our university in faith throughout this season, my reading has led me to the life and Book of Job. Ultimately the Book of Job presents the question: Will you choose to trust God even when everything in your life goes wrong?
Job lost his livelihood, his wealth, his health and even family members. Yet, he remained resilient in faith by choosing to trust God in the midst of his challenges. Job’s story has reminded me that we honor God, not by praising Him once our problems have passed, but by staying committed to Him in our difficulties.
It’s easy to think our faith is developed when things are good, and we can easily praise God. But what weight and power are there to our faith if we can only trust Him when life goes as planned?
What instilled Job’s faith throughout his journey was how he chose to view God. Job remembered God is good and loving. Job 10:12 (NIV) reminds us, “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.”
Job recalled God sees every detail of our lives. In Job 31:4, Job said, “Does he not see my ways and count my every step?”
Lastly, Job recognized God is in complete control. In Job 34:13, Job recalls, “Who appointed him over the earth? Who put him in charge of the whole world?”
Job didn’t praise God because He put the original plans back in place. Job chose to praise God even when his life’s plans were derailed.
This has been our message and focus here at Southeastern University during this time of national crisis. We have been encouraging our students to shift from the fear of the unknown to faith in an unchanging God.
As we believe that God is who He says He is, we need to ask ourselves: How can we allow this season to shape our faith to be as deeply instilled as it was for Job?
It is within these seasons that our faith is truly being formed.
In our Christian walk, we can often assume that as trials come we will innately have the wherewithal to keep our eyes on God. But what we often fail to recognize, is that in the hard moments we must choose to keep our eyes set on our Savior. We must choose to trust Him.
In the end, the Book of Job tells us that God rewarded Job for his trust in God when every circumstance around him was trying to convince him to lose his faith.
Ultimately, God is our creator and protector. We can take this season and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by uncertainty, or we can allow it to remind us that we are His and He is in complete control.