A few weeks ago, I returned to school along with millions of other American teachers, students, and support staff. The plan for me to adjunct a couple of classes at a local university was in the works long before the pandemic broke out, but as the semester drew near, it became clear that the return to school would be very different this year. In many ways, it is risky.
Precautions are being taken—masks are worn at all times, desks are spaced apart, and hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the building. Fewer students can be in the classroom than in previous semesters. And yet, we still wonder if we are doing enough to protect our students and ourselves from the virus. Just going about our day can feel dangerous.
As I prepared, I came across this blog from long before the pandemic by Tim Hoerr, who says the following about risk:
As we listen to the voice of God’s Spirit and attempt to follow the instructions he provides, we’ll often be prompted to take a risk.
For some of us, that risk will involve a major life change, such as a cross-country move, taking a new job, or going back to school in search of a new career.
For others, a risk could mean starting a new activity or joining a new affinity group, saying “no” to an opportunity, reaching out to a neighbor in need, or praying for a stranger.
Each person’s opportunity to risk will look very different from those around him or her. And each day’s opportunity to risk may look different from yesterday’s.
Our “opportunity to risk” today definitely looks different than any of us could have imagined or guessed. What Hoerr’s encouraging words reminded me of, though, is that God has known all along that the risks presented by the novel coronavirus awaited us this year.
God is not Surprised, He is Omniscient
A good friend of mine graduated in May with a master’s degree in higher education and was looking for employment this summer during the most uncertain season that industry has seen in recent history. She called me while we were both in lock-down to chat about her search, and at one point she said, “I wish I knew this would happen two years ago before I started my master’s program.”
Oh, don’t we all wish we had known! All I could think to say to her in that moment was, “God knew.”
God knew this disease and pandemic were coming, and he still called her to a career in higher education. God knew that schools would be in chaos this semester, reinventing learning environments day by day, and he still opened the door for me to teach. God knows how your life has been impacted by this pandemic, and he is not surprised.
In This World You Will Have Trouble
The knowledge that God knew about the pandemic should encourage us, but it does not by any means diminish the severity of the risks. The virus presents a real, unfortunately deadly, threat. Millions of people are still unemployed or underemployed as a result of the shock to the economy.
We can be confident that we will face real risks during this season, and even after it’s passed, because we live in a fallen world. Jesus warned his disciples of the trials they would face and then said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
A final reminder from Hoerr:
I’m convinced that one of the most important ways that we align our personal life stories with God’s bigger story is through acts of risk-taking in the ordinary, everyday, work-a-day decisions we make.
As we step out in risk-taking, we’re saying to God, “I love you. I trust you. I worship you.”
Like the disciples, we ought to take heart! In him we can find peace, even when it feels risky to just go about our lives and work.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the value of all our work in Hugh Whelchel’s seminal book, How Then Should We Work: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work, now available on Audible!