She sat across from me in the food court as I scarfed down a Chick-fil-A breakfast biscuit and squeezed in words of anxiety between bites. I was a college freshman stressing about my spring final exams and wishing the week was already over. My college mentor offered to meet me for breakfast before an exam since it was the only free time I had in my busy study schedule before I left for the summer. She kindly listened as I explained the woes of each one of my classes and worried that I wouldn’t make it through till next week. Then she asked me the strangest question, “Did you survive your fall final exams?”
I thought back to that week five months ago and honestly couldn’t remember much. I knew I had been stressed, especially since it was my first finals week as a college student. Yet I had turned in every paper and passed every test (with only one all-nighter under my belt). “Yes, I made it through, and I even got the GPA I was hoping for,” I replied.
“Finals week is just a season of your life,” she wisely admonished me. “The pressure you’re feeling right now will not last forever. In fact, you probably won’t remember how you feel five years from now, and maybe not even by next semester’s finals.”
Though college finals week seems like a trivial example now, my mentor was teaching me an important lesson in spiritual maturity. Just as the weather changes from summer to fall to winter to spring, we will walk through various seasons in life. Finals week seemed overwhelming to 19-year-old me, but I have faced much harder seasons in newlywed life, newborn days, family illness, job transitions, and more. However, that lesson from my college mentor has stayed with me: this is just a season.
Take his yoke
I remember nursing my daughter to sleep one night feeling completely overwhelmed. While we were overjoyed at being new parents, it was one of the toughest times in our family’s life. My husband and I had both made major career transitions, we moved across the state, and I was dealing with my mother’s cancer diagnosis. As I sat in the near dark, clinging to my four-month-old, I felt like I would never resurface. I would never adjust to working from home. I would never feel at home in our newly bought house. I would never have security about my mom’s health. The pressures of those few months were just heaped on my shoulders. Yet in that moment of hopelessness, God reminded me of my mentor’s words to give me hope—this is just a season.
Even sweeter than those words, God reminded me that in these tough seasons, I am never alone. Jesus invites me to come to him, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Maybe you’re facing a difficult season because of health issues, life changes, spiritual dryness, or physical and emotional stress. Maybe it’s lasted a week or a year. Maybe you’re like me that night in my daughter’s nursery rocker, feeling you’ll never escape the weight of stress in that moment. But you will, because this is just a season. God has promised to complete the work of spiritual maturity that he began in you, and this season is a part of that growth. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Look up and look back
What can you do in those seasons of life that seem overwhelming and hopeless? We look to Jesus, who faced pressures we could never imagine. “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Just as Jesus was motivated by the joy that was set before him, we endure because of the joy set before us. While the world may boast a “light at the end of the tunnel,” we as Christians have a more secure hope than a vague glow. “[God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope … to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:3-4, 6). Even though we face trials now, we rejoice because we know of the inheritance gained at the end of this life.
As we endure these seasons, we not only look up at Jesus, but we also look back and see how God has sustained us through difficult seasons in the past. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11). I remember our second year of marriage, one of our toughest, and I see how God grew my husband and me closer because of trials. I remember the lessons of humility and self-sacrifice that God taught me in my first year of motherhood. Even in my undergraduate season, where my greatest stress was a grade on a paper, I remember God revealing to me the source of my true identity in Christ. These dry seasons are hard, but they are never fruitless.
This is God’s season
I crumbled up the biscuit wrapper and thanked my mentor for her time. I left the food court encouraged to finish strong and not feel hopeless as I entered the classroom for my next final exam. In a much greater way, as I enter this next hard season of life (bringing home a newborn baby in the midst of a global pandemic), I take courage that God will use this season as well to grow me as a mother and wife, but most importantly as God’s child.
This season will not last forever. My baby boy won’t wake up through the night forever. Researchers will eventually find a cure and vaccine for COVID-19. Life will settle into a “new normal.” But the fact that this season will end is not my hope. My hope is in the God who uses each season of life to bring about my good and his glory.
This is just a season, and because of who God is and what he has done, it can be a good season, not matter how difficult it is. “This is the [season] that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).