Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 I had originally intended to write this exclusively to the Class of 2020, and yet since talking to so many this morning, I feel that this is needed to encourage whomever may need to hear it. For those who look back at this time (the Corona Virus Pandemic), I pray that they don't see a group of young men and women who "didn't have a normal experience" but a group of trailblazers who were forged from adversity. When we look back at times of trouble, we have one of two roads we can take:
1. We can wallow in self pity, despairing about what we never received, and live, like Miss Havisham (that old lady in Great Expectations who literally lived in the wedding day she never completed), in the moment that we did not receive, wondering "what could have been,"
2. Allow our circumstances to give us strength, understanding that difficult times temper us, hardening us to be able to face even more difficult challenges, and with God's victory, to overcome. Some of you won't get that Senior Game, your final exam (though I doubt there's not TOO much sorrow there), that moment to walk across the stage in a crowded auditorium or stadium, that last dance, or that moment of goodbye on the last day of school. It's okay to be sad! It's all right to feel a sense of loss. But don't let it weigh you down. Your adversity, your loss, can be a defining moment for your class. You will be, should you choose to look at this time as a challenge to be accepted, known as the class who blazed the trails for those who would follow, teaching your friends, siblings, and all those who go on after you how to live and, indeed, thrive when unfair circumstances assaulted your moment. So thrive. Choose to say "Challenge accepted." Choose to say "Lord, I can do all things, even this, if you go before me" and trust in His plan and purpose. Watch as He prospers your path, and as He delivers you in the moment of trouble. Just trust, persevere, and continue to move forward. From Joshua 1:1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses'assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a]wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”