As you’ve probably heard, the school year is not beginning the way many of us wished it would. In an effort to stay safe and adhere to protocol, Biola has decided to begin the semester online. And while we wish we could begin the year with our usual kickoff party, we nevertheless plan on being a resource to equip you and a community to empower you-- even remotely.
We are all living in what has been repeatedly deemed “unprecedented” times. Since March, we have endured not only the constant threat of a historic pandemic, but also everything a pandemic brings with it such as job loss, social isolation, canceled life-events, possible loss of loved ones, food or housing instability, financial insecurity, etc.
The killing of George Floyd in May also ignited what The New York Times has said might be the “largest movement in U.S. history.” And while the movement for Black liberation is deeply necessary and conversations about race and injustice are long overdue, these conversations can be mentally, emotionally, spiritually exhausting for the Black community.
All this being said, no matter who you are, you likely don’t need us to tell you how heavy the past few months have been. You’ve heard the 2020 jokes: “I can’t believe we counted down on New-Years for this” or “Of course [relatively unfortunate thing] happened, it’s 2020!”
And while it does often feel like the year has dealt us one blow after another, it’s important to keep this in mind: hardship didn’t begin in January, and it won’t end in December. Suffering is not a thing unique to 2020. Unfortunately, loneliness existed before isolation and quarantine. Racism existed before George Floyd was killed. Sickness existed before the coronavirus. And hardship will not vanish when we can be together on campus again. Though 2020 has been exceptionally wearisome, weariness is a thing of this life.
This brings up a wonderfully hard and sometimes painful tension that we as Christians live in. It is found in the space between the affliction of our broken world and the hope we have in the resurrection of Christ. Amidst our deepest sorrows and greatest fears, there is a vital promise that we must keep at the forefront of our minds. Jesus was, is, and will forever be victorious.
Over and over we see this specific and relevant promise realized throughout the pages of the Bible. We see the victory of Yahweh as He frees the oppressed from the hands of the Egyptians. We see the victory of our Almighty God as the walls of Jericho come crashing down into a heap of bricks and dust. We see the victory of Christ as He faces death for us and defeats it with one fell swoop, once and for all.
At the same time, Jesus' victory over death in no way guarantees that His followers will be exempt from hardship on this side of eternity. Rather, as Christians, we are gifted with the promise of the goodness of God despite the struggles we may encounter and in the midst of suffering. And we are gifted with each other; the Christian life is one of community. We live life alongside one another and joyfully shoulder each other's burdens (even if it does have to be over Zoom for a short period of time!)
Paul sums this tension up beautifully in Acts 20:22-24 when he says,
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
Now, running the race is going to look different for everyone, especially in this season. For some, it means simply getting out of bed in the morning. For others this will look like pursuing an unlikely friendship, spending 5 minutes in the word, or showing up to a zoom class. Whatever your race looks like in this season the Lord sees you, delights in you, and there is no shame wherever you might be.
We miss you. GRIT desires to be a place of community for you, no matter where you find yourself geographically, spiritually, or emotionally. In all the questions of this season, we know one thing for sure: our gracious Father knows where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re going and He is still by our side. This year is not what we hoped for, but that does not mean God is not good. God is good. He is victorious. And He loves us right where we’re at.
Grace and Peace,
Rachel & Logan