Do you find yourself barely getting by at university? Is it a struggle bearing the load of financial pressures and expectations from family and friends? Turns out, you are not alone.
I remember last year at this time, reading Maclean’s magazine cover article devoted to this on campus issue: “Campus crisis: the broken generation. Why so many of our best and brightest students report feeling hopeless, depressed, even suicidal”. The article spoke of a growing epidemic of university students all across Canada, and in the US, experiencing increasing amounts of stress. The list of reasons included moving away from home, academic demands, social pressures, parents’ expectations, and a looming recognition of the tough job market. A 2011 survey of 1,600 University of Alberta students showed that about 51 per cent reported that, within the past 12 months, they’d “felt things were hopeless,” and over half felt, “overwhelming anxiety.”
I’m feeling the pressure myself. It sometimes seems that my life is traveling the opposite way on an escalator. I am carrying a part-time job while balancing full-time studies, and a relationship with my wife. If I let things slide one day; I’ll be two days behind. Yet there are many students who I am sure have it worse than me. The home situation, the finances, the homework, the uncertainty; you know what I mean. More than this it seems that as students we can make our lives so busy that as the Maclean’s article says, “introspection is in short supply”. From “texting, listening to music, checking Facebook or Twitter, often all at once, there’s no time to mull over difficult, complicated emotions.”
With all that is on our plates, how do we cope? Even more than this, where do we find hope? We can try and cope by applying more willpower. We can clench our teeth and bear the load of doing it all our self; hoping that class mark comes back 90 or up, hoping that our parents will back off and that somehow everything will turn out okay. But will that really resolve the stress? After our consuming classes comes a tight job race, and a job offer opens up an endless treadmill of chasing a career while keeping tabs on all your competing colleagues. Add to this increasing family, social, and time pressures and we will find ourselves at the end of our strength.
We need help from outside of us. Sheer willpower won’t give us the progress or the rest we so deeply desire. But here’s the objection, I know because I’ve said it myself; “No one can take care of me but myself!” Well, how is that working for you? How’s that working for me? The challenge is that we can’t see anyone big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to care for us better than we can.
But suppose that there is someone whose love is extravagant, whose power is limitless, and whose greatest concern for us is that we find ultimate rest? There is One who is this way and He came to free us from the wheel of endless defeat, giving us a life full of joy and true rest. He says: “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Who can do this? Not I. Not you. But there is One who has come from heaven to earth to meet us where we are at, to bring us the rest we so deeply desire with the love that we never knew possible. Jesus is his name. Have you met him? Come to him, inviting him to invade your life, and experience His love, goodness and rest.
What do you make of the campus crisis? What do you think is the answer to it?