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The Coronavirus teaches graduating seniors one final lesson about faith in God by Ryan Bilodeau Flipbook PDF

So let’s not wish for 2020 to be over, but rather let’s use its final days to motivate and inspire our students. And if




The Coronavirus teaches graduating seniors one final lesson about faith in God by Ryan Bilodeau Ryan Bilodeau Jul 17, 2020 · 4 min read

Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

As a high school theology teacher, I cannot help but be reminded every spring of my own senior year and its series of meaningful social events. Things like my prom, senior suppers and graduation

all served for me and my friends as rites of passage and turning points in our development. But as innumerable students around the world are being forced to miss out on such momentous occasions, my feelings of nostalgia are this year being replaced by sorrow for the graduating seniors who will never have a chance to enjoy these important social gatherings. Even worse, this seemingly nonsensical suffering is not only impacting senior year of high school but is also prompting some of the most religious of students question God’s wisdom (or even His love) in allowing the natural evil of a pandemic to spread throughout cities across the planet. Why didn’t God just eliminate the Coronavirus? If you are reading this article, then you might be one such student. And that’s okay. Honesty with God and ourselves is a necessary ingredient in the development of an authentic relationship with Him. In fact, my classmates and those in the class ahead of me were not immune to having our faith in God tested after witnessing our own generation’s tragedy in the form of the 9–11 terrorist attacks. I still remember praying the rosary with my religion class on that fateful morning and wondering why would God allow such evil and suffering to occur?

That question was as important for me then as it is for you today because how you answer it can determine if your moving on from high school and the pandemic tragedy that consumes us is in a direction towards God or away from Him. I’d argue that the question itself might be the most important one asked of you during your high school career because getting it right means the strengthening of your relationship with God and getting it wrong can mean the weakening of it. As young adults, you’ll need God more than ever to face down and overcome the difficult temptations and moral challenges of your college years. Why would a good God allow any kind of suffering anyway? But answering this question properly might be difficult for graduating seniors because of the time period in which you grew up. You are graduating high school at a point in history where modern science and technology helps cure illness at the highest rate ever. Your phone can help guide you across the country and book hotels for you along the way without ever having to read a map. The fast food restaurants present in almost every city in America have convinced you that we can have anything we want and immediately. There has been a complete anesthetization of pain and suffering from society that has occurred over the course of your lifetime that makes dealing with suffering and hardship especially difficult when it occurs.

If you can take one lesson from the coronavirus, it is that suffering can come out of nowhere and happen for seemingly no logical reason. Suffering is unavoidable and will remain a constant part of your life in the coming years and decades as you grow into adults whose lives are more enmeshed with the happenings of this big ole crazy world and less with that of your safe and comfortable hometown community and family.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Suffering is unavoidable and (fortunately) redemptive Knowing this truth can prevent you from feeling abandoned by a God who doesn’t cause but does clearly allow hardships to be experienced in an effort to bring about some greater good. How is

that any different from your high school coach who made you run an extra lap to build up the endurance needed to win the big game? And if you don’t buy that this is how God works, then consider for a moment the salvation that came from Jesus’ suffering on the cross. The fact that God allowed His own Son to suffer certainly gives you and I a different perspective about any suffering we have endured this year and will go through in the future. God takes no pleasure in anyone’s pain, but rather uses it to help us shape our characters like swords forged in fire. Maybe you will meet your lifelong best friend in a College Freshmen music class you are only taking because you learned to play the piano during all the extra free time afforded by the quarantine. Or perhaps over these past few months, you were able to spend extra time with a family member you won’t see until next summer when you return home after your freshmen year in another part of the country. One final lesson From cancelled proms to senior dinners, the 2019–2020 school year was a rough one for graduating seniors. And yet the cause of the suffering experienced was also the source of your final high school lesson about the challenges of life that lay ahead in the post-high school world. You were fortunate to grow up in an age where almost any problem can be fixed through technological advances. Recognizing that this won’t always be the case and

embracing suffering as a redemptive part of life can help fortify your relationship with God and will be worth all the missed proms in the world. This final lesson is also one way that God has brought some good out of the evil and suffering stemming from COVID-19. Congratulations to the seniors of 2020 on all of your accomplishments and perseverance during this tragic time in history.