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Ouachita Stories


Contagious compassion and joy

Silver linings in the storm of COVID-19

Sunset at Lake DeGrayMay 13, 2020 - James Renshaw

It sometimes takes a good rainstorm to better appreciate the sunshine. There I was sitting in my 11 o’clock class on a Tuesday morning, just like normal. My professor walks in and first thing out of his mouth is, “What do y’all think are the chances of Ouachita going online right now?” That was the first time I thought this virus would actually affect my small school of Ouachita Baptist University in little Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I, like many, had heard of the coronavirus and had even been trying to keep up with it since it hit Italy. But I never expected it to have an impact on my own life, let alone two days later getting an email from President Ben Sells saying, unfortunately, everyone had to go home.

Weeks later, we all now realize we are living through a unique time in history. I personally wake up every morning to refresh different tabs on my computer only to see numbers of cases go up and up. However, while many sorrows and hardships are going on right now all across the world, courageous compassion is spreading across our country, as well. God provides a way for us to see hope in these difficult times, often through people’s selfless acts, and hope is really something people are searching for right now.

For example, Christian artist Phil Wickham recently led worship at Harvest Church in Riverside, California. A few days later, Wickham posted that an incredible 1.3 million people logged on to watch the online service and 11,207 professions of faith were recorded. People are looking for hope, and in times of sorrow, the hope of Jesus Christ sticks out clear as day.

So how can this relate to the students of Ouachita? When something like a pandemic hits home, we have to choose joy in times of sadness. Why? Because Jesus gives us that joy. We don’t deserve it, but yet we have access to it because of what he did on the cross. Even while having compassion for the sadness affecting so many, notice the good things happening, as well.

This rainstorm season of life will pass. What I hope follows is a better appreciation of the little things in life. Those moments of laughing with friends in the stu, a competitive intramural game, worshipping at Refuge, saying “Hi” to Scott in the caf, talking to someone that you met in class, cheering on the football team to another win or just relaxing in your dorm room watching a movie on a rainy day. For many of us, these are all things that will come again. Choose joy now, and we’ll start to see hope spread faster than this virus ever could.


James RenshawBy James Renshaw, a junior business administration/management major from North Little Rock, Ark.






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