The Suffering Souls on Campus

Today, I’m thinking about those who may be suffering, far from home, on college campuses. No shortage of words has been spent on our decadent culture and its many ugly faces, but perhaps one of its saddest ones is the plague of emptiness among our young. My own college experience stirs my compassion for today’s college kids—a generation facing a world that’s darker and more nihilistic than ever.

Back in the ancient 1990’s, when I was a student at Auburn University, I went through a long, hot summer of depression. I didn’t imagine or plan such a miserable break at the outset, of course. Although my roommates would be away many weeks, I kept myself occupied with an easy math class, running workouts, and a part-time job near campus. Most significantly, I was also dating a handsome non-Christian—an amiable and athletic guy, though a poor match for both my spirit and mind. 365 Days of Prayer for... BroadStreet Publishing... Best Price: $2.17 Buy New $10.46 (as of 03:32 UTC - Details)

I was heavily aware that our unholy alliance wasn’t right, but I was too entertained and attached to end the romantic fiction. Thus, I performed mental gymnastics to resist God’s persistent push on my heart; and I trudged on unhappily with my cumbersome load of secret sin and conviction. Eventually, the inner conflict so deeply crushed me that I could barely get out of bed; that Auburn summer was interminably heavy and hazy.

This week—well past my gloomy college memory—we all felt the muted light of an eclipse. Although Atlanta’s midday sky was clear that day, its radiance retreated under the odd, eclipsing light. When you’re depressed, every day is a solar eclipse, but with none of the usual fanfare and wonder. Joy is smothered, and hope is distant—if it is felt at all.

In Auburn’s mid-June intensity, my overcast spirit partially eclipsed the sunniest of skies; every object, thought, and human interaction was tinged with depression’s grey heaviness. When this kind of spiritual battle rages, simple joys and pastimes lose their shine. I remember that well; although I was a fitness fanatic, the gym, running trails, and even my mountain bike seemed to frown with summer’s lethargy and depression. By end of summer, a total eclipse seemed near. The Final Pandemic: An... Bailey, Dr Mark Best Price: $21.52 Buy New $22.49 (as of 12:31 UTC - Details)

When someone—young or old—is suffering in darkness, it’s because they can’t see the beauty of truth. Somewhere deep inside, a little lie has taken root. Its ugly growth, fed by unbelief, grows into a black canopy of anxiety or despair. Under the pervasive shade of this enemy within, I, too sank into despair. I secretly longed to confess my dilemma to someone with sympathetic wisdom; perhaps someone could light a path out of my spiritual, sin-soaked gloom. How many of our young suffer similarly, alone, but quietly long for the light of truth!

To this day, I’m thankful for those who stepped into my hastening darkness. Facing my realities—admitting my fears, confessing my sin, embracing God’s promises—none had seemed possible from the lonely gloom of my college apartment. No doubt, my mother’s persistent prayers bore fruit when a campus minister’s wife shared her engagement story with me; and after that conversation, I determined to break off my soul-deadening romantic entanglement.

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