Following Jesus in Times of Uncertainty

Following Jesus in Times of Uncertainty

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I hope I’m not alone when I describe the sinking feeling in my chest after another bad day, wondering if God is really listening, and wondering if it’s okay to even be asking that question. Does that make me less of a faithful Christian? These strings of thought followed me constantly during my time abroad in the Czech Republic. What does it mean to follow Jesus, especially with struggles crowding your thoughts and feeling like nothing is going the way that God planned?

As a junior in college, it is quite predictable that my life has changed dramatically since I first stepped on campus at Susquehanna University just three years ago. More than others, though, the year of 2019 proved to be the most challenging yet, especially in terms of faith. In the first half of this year, I was actively working at my campus church as a deacon and I was enjoying my Religious Studies courses that I was taking. I felt so utterly connected to God and felt as though, for a lack of better terms, ‘Jesus had my back’. I was reading my Bible frequently, leading worship groups, and really listening to the messages that this faith community gave me. I was blessed with an amazing boyfriend during the academic year and was also given an amazing job as a Nature Director with a Salvation Camp in Connecticut. Feeling really connected to my faith and Jesus gave me so much happiness that I never knew I had.

Then came my long-awaited semester abroad. During my experience in Prague, it was difficult to find someone who spoke fluent English let alone find a church service in English that fit. There were a few Catholic churches and one Methodist church that had an early English service, yet there was not a UCC church anywhere in site. I felt very alone after coming from such a tight faith community at Susquehanna and the Salvation Army camp I worked at the summer before. There was a large disconnect, a feeling of not being interwoven with my congregations back home. It was difficult to make friends who were from all over the world and this brought about a large downfall in my levels of confidence. While I did travel during my studies abroad, most days were filled with loneliness and an urge to go back home to familiarity. Surprisingly, through strength I didn’t know I had, and perseverance, I made it through my abroad trip.

When I thought all of the hardships were over, 2020 came like a slap in the face. While the beginning of the year seemed good enough, the Australian bushfires raged on and we are currently overwhelmed by the novel COVID-19 virus spreading at what seems an unstoppable rate. I was actually in London when the travel bans started being put into place and I began to feel so trapped and anxious. I was able to get home with little trouble, but some of my family members who were abroad as well had to rush or cancel vacations and life milestones in order to avoid getting sick or trapped.

Even with my anxiety, I have felt strangely calm amidst the storm of news reports and bareness of shelves at grocery stores. My family is a big advocate of the idea of meditation, so I take five minutes a day to suspend the chaos of the world from my stream of consciousness. A simple, small, and quick practice has helped me realize the bigger picture and the necessity to act with love. I send my love and prayers go out to everyone-- family, friends, and strangers. This is a time of uncertainty, but as Christians we need to count on each other, even from a distance, to show unconditional love and care of strangers and family alike. This is the epitome of following Jesus; seeing others care of others is seeing him work through each and every one of us.
 

Author

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Grace Winakor

Grace Winakor is a member of the First Congregational Church of Portland, CT.  She was a Thinking About Working For God Apprentice in 2019.  Grace is a Religious Studies Major, the incoming Deacon of Worship at Weber Chapel, and the President of ...

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