“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14-15)
5 a.m. Jolted awake by yet another fire alarm. The Heritage Hall microwaves are at it again. As the residents of Heritage gathered outside the building in 30 degree air – some wrapped in blankets, some wearing shorts and t-shirts, some fully dressed and ready to take on the day – there were many conversations going on, but as I sat shivering on the curb, there was a theme that kept jumping out at me as I overheard snippets of conversations: complaining.
“I have to be up in two hours!” “I have to go to class!” “I just want to be back in bed.” “Who makes popcorn at 5 a.m?!” “I’m gonna hunt down whoever set it off this time.”
Fellow Cairn students, I have a newsflash for you: We’re all tired.
Throughout the past few weeks, conversations around campus have been marked with the consistent theme of complaints – about the food in the MAC, about professors, about due dates, papers, lack of sleep, friend drama, Student Life, you name it. The fact is that we’re all struggling. It’s November! It’s the time of the semester when huge papers start piling up, daunting reading assignments take forever to finish, and getting any amount of decent sleep seems impossible. It is so easy to begin to believe that you are the only person who is experiencing stress, exhaustion and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed. But the truth is, you’re not the only one.
This fact presents a point of encouragement and a challenge. Be encouraged that you are not alone. You are not the only one who is buried by life, and therefore, we are buried together. We can take this opportunity to walk alongside one another, to point each other back to Jesus, to remind each other that our strength and joy in each day comes only from HIM, not from ourselves. We are a community of believers. We have the amazing opportunity to live together, eat together, learn together, grow together, and experience 5 a.m. fire alarms together.
A couple weeks ago in chapel, Dr. Williams challenged us to practice encouraging one another. Giving each other courage, empowering one another. Can I ask you to do just that? Think twice about the words that you speak. There is value in being honest with each other concerning the condition of our hearts and in sharing our burdens, but there is equal value in building one another up. There needs to be a balance of the two.
Friends, we have this hope that Christ sustains us. He sustains us through each day, each moment, each assignment, each sleepless night. Because of this hope, we have the freedom to be filled with joy. But we have to choose it. Choose to be joyful rather than pessimistic. Choose to look on the bright side. Choose to notice the beautiful fall leaves. Choose to be thankful for the fact that we are here, doing life together. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s stressful. Sometimes it involves shivering outside at an ungodly hour rather than catching a few more hours of sleep. But this stressful and overwhelming college life is where God has called each of us. It is in this season of stress that He can best teach us to surrender our schedules to Him and to look to Him for strength to get everything done on time. Let’s choose to make the best of it, and to help each other to see this time as a blessing, instead of a burden.
As John Piper wisely stated: “If you live gladly to make other glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.”
*Image not owned by Masland Library, Creative Commons usage