Monday, August 24, 2020

hopeless?

I got an email the other day that opened with these words:

"Eighty percent of college students reported the COVID-19 crisis has had a negative effect on their mental health and one-fifth say it has significantly worsened, according to a survey conducted by Active Minds in April." (Higher Ed Hot Topics newsletter)

My first reaction was surprise. 80%? That sounds absolutely crazy. How can that possibly be true? The surprise changed to sadness pretty quickly, though, because I spent a lot of years in college. I understand the stress of classes, and I understand the added stress of all the other stuff in life that looms over you, a massive dark cloud at times that makes it nearly impossible to focus on studying. In the midst of all that, it would be incredibly easy to give in to despair and overwhelming anxiety.

But God.

When I was in college, there were many times when the pressure got to me. It was easy to start spiraling down into that sea of dark hopelessness...but God. He was my source of strength when all my own strength was gone. He was the One who pulled me back to the surface over and over again-- through family, friends, and even some of my professors.

As believers, we lose sight of the fact that so many things in our life would be completely different if it weren't for those two little words: but God. The sad truth of the matter is, a majority of today's college students don't know the importance of those two words. Our kids are being raised in a society that has decided to push God aside, not understanding all the consequences of such a decision. As a result, they are dealing with the stress and anxiety and pain that comes with living in this fallen world without the comfort and peace that comes with knowing the Creator of the universe.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not making light of mental health and mental illness. I am, however, saying that the only source of healing is God. Without Him at the center of it, no amount of medication or counseling or therapy is going to heal a broken life. In Him, we are promised a "peace that passes understanding" (Philippians 4:7), a peace that endures through the hardest of times solely because "He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). He promises to be with us through the struggles of life, so close to us even when we're in the depths of despair that He can whisper in our ear.

"Saying Your name, Eternal One, I called to You
    from the darkness of this pit.

Surely You’ve heard me say,
    'Don’t be deaf to my call; bring me relief!'

So close when I’ve called out in my distress,
    You’ve whispered in my ear, 'Do not be afraid.'"

Lamentations 3:55-57

As believers, we've fallen short. We watch people being swallowed up by hopelessness but we don't tell them about the source of the hope we have. We need to listen to the instructions Peter gave: "Always be ready to offer a defense, humbly and respectfully, when someone asks why you live in hope." (1 Peter 3:15)

How exquisitely important is it right now, in a time when people are admitting they feel hopeless, to point others to hope?

Hope is Christ--the Son who humbled Himself and submitted to the excruciating death of the cross, simply because of His devotion to the Father and love for us.

Hope is wisdom--promised to us by the source of all wisdom, the Creator of the universe.

Hope is a promise--a future, no matter what today holds. A promise that even when this world is spinning out of control, God isn't knocked off balance by any of it.

Hope is strength--not our own, but His strength.

Hope is waiting--quietly, patiently waiting on God's plan instead of rushing forward into your own, knowing His plans for you are like nothing you could ever imagine.

Hope is boldness--being able to step forward even when it means walking into the fire, knowing that God is powerful enough to rescue you from the flames, yet still taking that step if He decides not to pull you out.

Hope is salvation--from fear and despair, but more importantly from ourselves and all the ways we have fallen short of God's glory. 

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~Mandy

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