By Katherine Oschner
Life changes quickly. Circumstances can be completely altered in an instant. People change their minds, or their direction, or their motives. Things we had just assumed would always be there, disappear in an instant, leaving us uncertain and unwilling to hope again.
Since coming to college, my life has changed more than I ever would have imagined. As a friend articulated it so well, “I never knew life could be lived so intensely as it is in college.” Some experiences have been life-changing in amazing ways: gaining deep godly friendships, having incredible experiences studying abroad, learning incredible knowledge about God’s creation. Other changes have been devastating and heartbreaking: the pain and homesickness of leaving the people and place I love, tension and disharmony in my family, the unexpected death of my aunt, and messy and broken friendships.
Our natural response to unwanted changes is often to ask “Why?” Why, God? Why do people have to die? Why do friendships have to change? Why am I so uncertain about my purpose and future path? Why can’t I depend on anyone- or anything- to remain the same?
Ultimately, nothing in this world does stay the same forever. Through unexpected, unwanted, and painful changes, I have learned two meaningful takeaways: God is faithful; and close, godly friendships are so valuable.
We can count on the fact that God is always faithful; but too often, we are fickle. Even as Christians with the best of intentions, we can get caught up so quickly by earthly distractions. This world tends to demand our devotion and arrest our attention. Inevitably, those things are fleeting and disappear eventually. The result is disappointment, disillusionment, and confusion. Losing something I thought I could depend on is one of the most devastating feelings I have ever experienced. In the middle of that brokenness and pain, I have learned to lean so much harder on God: He is dependable and abundantly gracious. Only He remains constant amidst the turbulent intensity of life.
When life inevitably lets us down, guess where we can ALWAYS return? To the waiting arms of our loving heavenly Father! He is right there, right beside us, right where we left Him. He is patiently awaiting our realization of the temporary nature of worldly things and our return to His unchanging love and grace. He wants His children to follow Him; He is more concerned about the state of my heart than fixing my messy circumstances. His will is for my good and for His glory. Following Jesus ultimately leads to my joy; I can find hope and comfort in Him.
Ultimately, we can depend on God alone. Yet He is also good and gracious to surround us with godly friends. Yes, friends sometimes might let us down; but they also can profoundly lift us up. I have been humbled many times by God’s grace reflected through believing friends expressing love and concern for me. Especially at this place and time in our lives, we are simply surrounded by incredible individuals, each one with a story that is messy, beautiful, and unique. Through fellowship God gives us encouragement and hope. One of the most consistent cures I’ve found for loneliness and depression is godly, genuine personal connection.
Every time I have been confronted with a truly challenging situation, God has taught me (again) to depend on Him. It is a lesson I am continually learning, and He will likely continue to teach me throughout all of life. Life is messy, but Jesus is real, and He is working in the midst of our messiness. How then should we live? Love God, and love people. “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.” ~C.S. Lewis