Then, this virus came along and changed everything. Classes got moved online. They closed campus. The interview you had set up got cancelled. Instead of moving at the end of the semester to a new town, you had to move back home with your parents.
The unpredictable will always be a part of your life. Knowing that, here are three specific pressures you might be experiencing in present day, and how to use them to construct a deeper sense of maturity and godly character for the future.
1. Wondering what God’s will is for your life in all of this?
Finding out what God wants us to do in life has to begin with asking the right question, and What is God’s will for my life? is simply the wrong question to ask.
There’s an assumption within the question itself that we want God to bless us with what will make us most happy because it’s all about me. The question is asked through western cultural values that place control, comfort, prosperity, individualism, and safety above all else (many of which are being stripped from us by the pandemic).
Truthfully, the more appropriate question should be, During this unique season, how does my life fit into God’s will? This is how to ask the question correctly because it’s taking into account the bigger picture of how God is working in the world. It assumes the plot of the story isn’t about you, but about Him. He is the main character. He is doing something amazing in the hearts of people, and we should want to know how we can be a part of what is already happening as He is moving.
Let me give you an example. I believe that now, more than ever, people will be more naturally inclined to talk about God and spiritual subjects. No doubt, your fellow students are bored on their devices because of school closures, so why not invest this time well instead of just spending it?
You can record yourself talking about what God has done in your life, how Christ has changed you, or what you’ve been learning lately. Encourage people to DM you, respond with a comment, or post a question in relation to what you’ve shared. This time can open relational doors unlike any time before because there’s a more captive audience.
People are scrolling, so what would it look like for God to use you and bring the light of the good news into your friend’s lives? Now, perhaps more than ever, is a great time to talk with someone about God’s love for them in Jesus Christ. This is just one extraordinary way you can proactively use your life to fit into God’s will.
2. Wondering what to do with all of this “slow time?”
The coronavirus has forced all of us to stop our regular daily routine and slow our lives down. Many people welcome this, and yet for some it’s excruciating to operate at what seems like a snail’s pace.
You can pick a Scripture and meditate on it for an extended period of time…time where you don’t speak or let your mind wander, but instead listen to God through His word. And I’m sure there are many other ways to wait in silence on God. It’s a great time to be doing so.
3. Wondering how you’re going to take care of yourself, both now and after this is over?
One of the obvious benefits from COVID-19 for me has been that the pandemic itself opposes the illusion of human self-sufficiency and autonomy.
Paul David Tripp once wrote,
“The development of spiritual maturity is a move from independence to great dependence on God. Exposing our delusion of self-sufficiency is a painful thing, but a good thing.”
I love this because it’s so obviously true, but also completely counterintuitive to all my humanly instincts.
As people, we like to believe that we are so sophisticated and competent. Yet all evidence is to the contrary right now—it only takes one microscopic virus to stop the entire world in its tracks. You should let this be a reminder that you cannot take care of yourself now or after the dust settles from this event. You were created to live in great dependence on the Creator.
It’s in these moments that we must point out to ourselves that the Lord is upright and there is no unrighteousness in Him (Psalm 92:15). He is good and sovereign over all things (Ephesians 1:11). He can do all things, and no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2).
You and I both know highschool and/or college students who were preparing to graduate in the coming weeks. How are they handing life during these stressful times? Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress will be an excellent graduation gift as they prepare to meet the real world headon. After all, as Shelby Abbott writes, "I’ve found that adulthood in general is in the regular habit of throwing us curveballs."
This humorous, poignant, and conversational guide invites young men and women to practically apply gospel solutions to all of life’s pressures, big or small. From navigating failure, roadblocks, and spiritual warfare to tackling relevant, hard-hitting topics such as drinking, sex, dating, pornography, and the fear of missing out, Pressure Points by Shelby Abbott encourages college students to consider Jesus in the midst of everyday struggles.
From waiting on the Lord with patience, learning to fellowship with Him in His sufferings, to wrestling with purpose, relationships, and the growing challenges of today’s culture, Pressure Points is a timely and refreshing voice for young people pointing to a bottomless pit of grace.
Pressure Points is available here in paperback and eBook formats. Read a sample here.
“Shelby Abbott has a sharp mind and an even sharper wit, and he brings both to bear on some of the key issues facing so many in our churches today. He writes with the wisdom of a mentor but the tone of an older brother who’s on your side. This is a terrific resource with so much biblical and practical guidance.” —Sam Allberry, Speaker and author of Seven Myths about Singleness
“When it comes to student ministry, there are few people I trust more than Shelby Abbott. I’ve watched him up close and far away. He understands the challenges, the struggles, and the angst that so often haunt the college years. In Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress, Shelby deftly blends biblical insight and experiential wisdom to help young people navigate life-shaping questions. Buy two copies of this book—one for that twenty-something in your life, and one for yourself. You won’t regret it.” —Matt Smethurst, Managing Editor of The Gospel Coalition; author of 1–2 Thessalonians: A 12-Week Study
4/28/2020 09:26:04 am
Paul Tripp's quote put succinctly something I've often thought: as children mature, they grow more and more independent. But as Christians mature, we grow more dependent on God. Maybe it's a mercy in the long run that this pandemic is happening now in students' lives. Learning our dependence on Him when everything is out of control is a good foundation for the rest of life.
4/28/2020 06:37:32 pm
I love that Barbara! "...they grow more and more independent. But as Christians mature, we grow more dependent on God." You know, I've never thought of it like that, but it's so true! Paul Tripp also wrote the forward for this book. :)
4/30/2020 09:25:23 am
This is great insight, Barbara. I have a high school senior who is managing pretty well under the circumstances, but SO MANY disappointments to absorb. I'll share this thought with him.
4/28/2020 09:52:03 am
4/28/2020 06:39:07 pm
It's a great book that teaches dependence on God, and although it's geared towards grads, all of us can benefit from it.
4/28/2020 10:36:02 am
So true. But something you don't know yet as a young person. "I’ve found that adulthood in general is in the regular habit of throwing us curveballs. " This had me laughing. Yup, that's adult life. This was a wonderful article for graduates, but also a great reminder for all of us. These 3 tips are applicable for all of us. No matter the stage of our life.
4/28/2020 06:43:02 pm
It totally is, Theresa! Adulthood LOVES to throw those curveballs!!! LOL I laughed at that too, and remembered how I couldn't wait to be an adult. Now, I look back and can't believe how good I had it! And you're right, the three points are great reminders for every one of us, no matter the season.
4/28/2020 10:44:27 am
Interesting take on the question What is God’s will for my life? as the wrong question to ask. I don't see it that way. Whenever I ask that question, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with sincerely wanting to know his will for my life. It's a question that comes from a place of deep surrender. Not my will Lord but only your will be done in my life. At times it comes from desperately wanting to know his will so that I can pursue it with the help of the Holy Spirit. Something to think about...
4/28/2020 06:48:45 pm
Yes, Yvonne, I think that is my favorite part of Shelby's open letter. Just to wrap my brain around how do I fit into God's will instead of me trying to fit His will into my life. I think you are asking the question right because you're asking it with sincerity. However, when I look at how I ask God to reveal His will to me, I know that sometimes I haven't asked with that same sincerity. I've asked hoping to fit His will into my little box, and that's not how it works. The way Shelby writes this really hit home with me.
4/28/2020 02:11:32 pm
My thoughts and prayers are with those who are missing out on their senior year festivities. But what a story they will be able to tell their children one day!
4/28/2020 06:50:13 pm
Yes, Lisa, this is the "I walked three miles to school barefoot in the snow" story for this generation! LOL
Patsy, thank you for introducing us to Shelby. The advice and encouragement he gives to college grads is useful for all of us. My heart goes out to the class of 2020, both college and high school grads. They got an early lesson on resilience and how to be flexible when life throws a curveball. I hope they follow this good advice on how to handle it!
4/28/2020 06:52:21 pm
You're so right, Laurie. This book is good for all of us, in any season. There are lessons here we need to learn and cling to for the hard times.
4/28/2020 09:34:38 pm
It's a difficult time for so many in this pandemic.
4/29/2020 06:06:50 am
It is, Jennifer! But this book is filled with so much encouragement! I wish I could get a copy into the hands of every graduate!
4/30/2020 06:16:45 am
I totally agree, Christine! That's what drew me to the book. It's geared towards graduates, but the principles are relevant to all of us. I LOVE THIS!!! —> " God often has greater opportunities in our interruptions than in our best laid plans. Looking at the ministry of Jesus, many of His greatest miracles were interruptions along the way." So true! Thanks for sharing!
4/29/2020 06:08:17 am
They are, Boma. I think that's what I love about the book—it's practical, helpful, and encouraging. And not just for graduates, for all of us! :)
4/29/2020 08:42:16 am
It's a sad time for our graduates and so many others.
4/29/2020 06:51:53 pm
It is sad, Susan, but what a great opportunity for them to grow as well!
4/29/2020 12:40:18 pm
Loved these highly applicable truths! Sharing with my 2020 college graduate!
4/29/2020 06:52:44 pm
Thanks for sharing, Leslie!
4/29/2020 05:02:59 pm
Thoughtful post. And this sounds like a great book.
4/29/2020 06:53:21 pm
It is a great book Lauren! :)
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