With less than two months until graduation, I received an announcement email stating that my graduation from Divinity School would be transitioned to online and the physical ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Though God prepared me for this announcement just two days earlier by placing in my heart that there would likely not be a physical graduation in May 2020, I was still torn between understanding the decision and disappointment. A day that I had looked forward to for years would be an online experience instead of in-person where I could celebrate with family, friends, classmates, and professors. After years of studying, writing papers, and missing out on family and friends’ events, I wanted to celebrate the conclusion of my Master of Divinity degree. I was sure that many of the other 2020 students felt a similar disappointment, so I was saddened for them as well.
Graduation was just the first event that I had to process the cancellation of. I also had a post-graduation trip out of the country, a family vacation, a mission trip, and several speaking engagements that were either canceled or postponed. I quickly decided that processing each disappointment was important to me so that I could be in an emotionally and spiritually healthy place, free from any bitterness or hard-heartedness.
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB) says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
In my walk with the Lord, I have aimed to make plans but to allow God to alter those plans as He sees fit. During the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, it seemed that my plans were rapidly changing, and my disappointment was growing. My heart was also breaking for my friends and other people around the world who were experiencing great losses of loved ones, income, and more.
Spending Time in Prayer
In the midst of my changed plans and my anxious thoughts, I received word that a distant relative passed away from COVID-19 related complications. Several friends of the family also passed away due to COVID-19. As I wrestled with the weight I felt from the worldwide grief and suffering, along with my own disappointment, anger, and anxiety, I decided to pray for people who were sick, lost a loved one, lost a job, or were simply afraid. I also decided to trust God in the midst of all of the changes I faced in what I thought would be a time of pure celebration.
Through this time of prayer, God began to heal my heart and give me peace. It may seem strange to those observing me from the outside that I would have so much peace. This is precisely what the peace of God tends to do, it surpasses all understanding.
Receiving the Peace of God
I was reminded of the scripture that says in Philippians 4:7 (NASB),
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God can be present in our lives even as we are facing uncertain times, grief, and pain. God’s peace is meant to surround us and guard our hearts and our minds.
May you know the peace of God no matter what difficulty you are facing today.
Copyright © May 2020 Dayna Lovelady, used with permission.