Someone asked me a few months ago how I was doing in this pandemic. I said I was doing well. I didn’t even qualify it with an “all things considered…” I had been on break from school for a few weeks in the summer, and the weather had been good. I’d started having outdoor social distance visits and had even taught some backyard yoga classes.
This past week, however, has not been okay. The days have been tough, but by no means tougher than what I have seen others experience around me earlier this year.
I have to admit that pursuing graduate studies during a pandemic was not how I saw this year going down. The feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability and fear amidst pain and suffering have overwhelmed at times. It has also challenged an already limited capacity for self-discipline to complete the mountain of reading and written assignments due each week.
As I reflect back on last spring, there was so much loss around me, so many practical needs within the community, my church family, and my own extended family, and I remember watching my local brothers and sisters in Christ meeting many of these needs and serving each other and the community in powerful and meaningful ways. Praise God the church has been on the move, but I often felt a little left behind with my head in a textbook.
I didn’t start taking these classes to acquire job skills or to get a specific job. This is a fact which my goal-oriented, ambitious self still finds strange. I felt compelled, however, to examine my faith, to deepen my knowledge of the God I professed belief in and to seek answers to life’s difficult questions. I am pursuing this degree because my faith was shaken a few years back, and I want a settled confidence in God’s faithfulness and goodness to prepare for the future trials I will walk through in this life.
Last spring, the two classes I selected were “Evil, Suffering and Hell” followed by “Morality and Ethics.” As I watched the reality of the first played out in the lives of so many around me during what has so far been the height of the pandemic, the second brought a deeper understanding of the need to thoughtfully and compassionately respond to the needs of others.
Suffering is inevitable in this life, and it sometimes can feel arbitrary, weighty and unjust. We can, however, choose not to be alone in our suffering. There is a Savior in Jesus Christ who entered into the pain and suffering of mankind in order to redeem those who place their faith and trust in Him. He promises rest for our souls.
The current season is a difficult one to find rest, but by God’s grace, I have been able to find rest. I find rest from my sorrow. I find rest from my anger. I find rest in uncertainty. I find rest from my fears.
I find rest for my soul.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
Photo credit: Mark Lucey