Apr 04, 2020 08:00am
Dear Graduating Class of 2020, We know you had plans, but . . .

This won’t be a, “Hey, look on the brightside…or else you’re a sinner!” moment. So, you can relax.

Truth is, my heart is with y’all. I realize concerning fatalities, the coronavirus isn’t as much of a threat to you than other demographics. But in terms of “felt hits,” emotional tolls, and missed opportunities, it’s hard to fathom.

I don’t wanna get sappy or dramatic, but the emotions you’re feeling – I’d imagine a lot of frustration, anger, uncertainty, more anger, and helplessness – are okay. I want you to know that. They’re good

Jesus gave us these emotions; don’t suppress them. Handle them with godliness, of course. But make sure to peek behind them. Get specific, why are you angry? List it out, mentally, then take it to God. Then take it to Scripture, see what has caused God’s people anger over the years.

When prom, senior-year sports, graduation, local traditions, and just hanging out with your friends (and saying bye to all of them at once?) gets pulled out from beneath you by something you can’t control – that’s traumatic. I mean that word traumatic. Like I said, don’t suppress it.

A story about my hero

So, the main thing I wanted to do with this piece is share a story with you. With COVID-19 you have time, so no excuses! It regards one of my heroes – I sure hope you have some of those.

His name is J.C. Ryle. He lived in the 1800s as, in my opinion, one of the greatest pastors and writers that’s ever been. Ryle has profoundly impacted my ministry, my manhood, my view of God – almost more than anyone else – and I’ve never met him! He’s done this for millions of people, influencing even the sermons of Charles Spurgeon (perhaps you’ve heard of him?).

But how he become a pastor is what I’d like to bring before you. 

It was through an uncontrollable tragedy. 

In short, his Dad’s business went into bankruptcy. Might not seem like much to us, but in those days, culturally, the shame of this event would’ve spiraled him away from equality with his friends’ social status. Overnight he essentially went from their friend to their butler. It’s not quite how things work today, but just imagine it. That’s a hard hit for a young man.

He writes this: “I as an eldest son, 25, with all the world before me, lost everything and saw the whole future of my life turned upside down and thrown into confusion. In short if I had not been a Christian at this time, I do not know if I should not have committed suicide.” 

Does this not reveal the depth of emotions he felt? But he goes on:

“If my father’s affairs had prospered, and I had never been ruined . . . I should never have been a clergyman, never have preached a sermon, written a tract, or a book.”

From rough place to level ground

As God says in Isaiah 42:16, “And I will lead the blind (that’s you and me!) in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.”

For those of you who know Jesus, trust him. Trusting is one of the hardest things a human can do. It’s at odds with our nature. To trust anything or anyone outside of ourselves is scary. But we’ve just seen, on a global scale, that there’s nothing here trustable.

For those without Jesus, I urge you to consider him. When the world crumbles he still stands, open-armed, toward you, victorious in clearing your sin’s penalty, if you’ll only come in faith. No more excuses. Bring Jesus your questions, your burdens, your sins – and He’ll give you rest and the joy of your salvation.

God is writing your story, Seniors. The coronavirus hasn’t bypassed Jesus’ sovereignty, y’all. I personally had different plans in mind. But they weren’t perfect plans. His are. So, I’m going to choose to trust.

Will you join me?

Copyright © 2020 by Justin Talbert @ with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from