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Editorial: Thoughts on a Hectic Year

Published Date: June 3, 2024

My third year of seminary is now over. If all goes according to plan, Lord willing, I’ll graduate with my M.Div. next year. What comes after my time at seminary? I’m not sure, but finishing strong here is a good first step.

This year has been good… but also stressful and crazy. I’ve learned and grown a lot, but how can I really know that I have? I hope I’m wiser than I was a few months ago; I hope the image of Christ in me shines brighter. But how can I know that the person I am now is better than the person I was four months ago, or four years ago?

I can’t speak to my moral development, but this year worried me where academic development is concerned. For the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring, I was worried that I’d gotten sick of school. I’ve loved learning for my whole life, but it didn’t feel as enchanting as it once did. It started to feel like a struggle – like twenty consecutive years of formal education completely wore me out. 

This year has brought with it a lot to process outside of school, too. So many people in our seminary community found out they were incredibly sick. Diagnoses included cancer of various kinds, organ failures, immune system backfires, and more. Every person I heard of is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Thus theodicy surfaces in the minds of even unflinching Christians – how could this happen? Of course I know that God is good. It just hurts to see devout followers of His hurting so deeply.

It has also been a year of institutional sicknesses coming to light. Many universities and churches that shaped friends of mine dropped their façade – there was corruption behind the scenes. Institutions that demanded perfection of their constituents were piling sin upon sin behind closed doors. How are we supposed to understand the places that shaped us when it turns out that they were run by frauds? Well, I suppose we’re all frauds – it’s the holiness of God that matters, although that does not leave us free to sin willfully.

A lot of things have changed for my family, too. My little brother got engaged and graduated from college. All year, my sister has faced some mysterious health challenges that are just now coming to resolution. My parents are considering what life will look like with an empty nest. I’m considering what life will look like a year from now. The simple life we knew as kids is radically different from what we’re facing now.

Through all of this, the Lord has been faithful. When I thought the fire I had for learning was low, He stoked it anew. Every person facing illness has done so with such admirable grace and endurance. God has given peace to those in distress, including my immediate family.

If I was in charge of crafting the 2023-2024 academic year, it would have looked far different. However, the old cliché rings true: God works in mysterious ways. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know the goodness of our Creator outweighs the uncertainty.

This article is by Julia Hotchkiss, Alumni Office Student Worker.

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One response to “Editorial: Thoughts on a Hectic Year”

  1. Tammy Cessna says:

    We are very blessed to have you as a student worker in the Alumni Office, Julia. You are a ROCK STAR to us 🙂 May God continue to lead and guide you (and I am very glad we get you for another year!!!).

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