Students poured onto the campus of Blue Mountain College on August 11th, eager to begin their new academic year after the abrupt ending of the previous semester. But though the college has reopened its doors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not exactly the same place we left. There are new precautions in place, designed to keep every member of the Topper family safe. Masks are mandated, and some larger classes have been split in half to comply with social distancing regulations. Every morning, students take a Symptom Survey that evaluates their health. Anyone who tests positive for the virus or who has possibly been exposed to it is immediately put on a fourteen-day quarantine. Even at a glance, the truth is evident: Change has come to Blue Mountain College.
Students left campus on March 6th, looking forward to a restful spring break. Some were even laughing about the idea that a virus from China could potentially shut down the school. But by the next week, no one was laughing anymore. Cases of COVID-19 began popping up all across America, and when the virus reached Mississippi, the state went into lockdown. Blue Mountain students received the shattering news that classes would be entirely online for the rest of the semester. Plans for the fall semester were up in the air for several months, and though we are now back on campus, the threat of returning to online is never far from our minds.
In times like these, the question everyone is asking is, “How do I respond to this?” When your world is turned upside down and everything you thought you could rely on is snatched away, how can you return? How can you go back to normal when, deep down, you know things will never be the same again?
The only real answer to this is God. As Christians, we have a hope that no one can take away. Even in the midst of nauseating uncertainty, we can still place our trust in God—for He alone will never change. “God is our refuge and strength,” Psalm 46:1 asserts, “a very present help in trouble.” Yes, the world is in a giant mess; but then again, it’s been a mess before. Think about the Black Plague, the Civil War, World War I, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, World War II… Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, all creation has been in turmoil. The Coronavirus is just one calamity in a ridiculously long line of calamities. But throughout every event in history, God has been there. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God of Blue Mountain College. He was here when the college was founded, and He is still here today.
Even though the world around us is in the throes of insanity, He remains constant and true. He still gives us His peace, the peace that passes all understanding. As this school year continues to march on, let us find peace in the knowledge that He will never change. Let us “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let [our] requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6-7). Let us rest in the promise of His presence.