October 27, 2017
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6
He sat with his arms crossed on his desk his face buried deep in the crevices of his arms. Wedged behind him was his backpack, securely strapped to his back. I knelt beside him and quietly whispered to him to start the assignment. Nothing. Not a nod. Not a curse word. Not a gesture. Nothing.
I made a loop around the room, checking on my other students, and stopped by again. Still nothing. I tried every motivational word, speech, tone, and facial expression I could conjure up, but still no response. As the minutes ticked away on the clock, his arms crossed tighter, his face buried deeper, and his defiance grew stronger. Battle lines were being drawn, trenches were being dug, and it was only the first day of school.
I knelt beside my bed that night and cried out to the Lord. I didn’t know what to do. In all my years of teaching, I had never encountered a student like him. Yes, they had thrown fits before, slammed their books, crossed their arms, tossed their hair, rolled their eyes, clicked their tongues or even stormed out of class, but this was different. He was different. This was a battle I didn’t have a strategy for winning and it was a war neither of us could afford to lose.
God beckons us to call on him when we are desperate. He promises to not only hear, but to listen to what we are saying. When I am distressed, I want someone to hear me, to truly listen to the cry of my heart. Deep down I long for connection and affirmation. I want to know that I am not crazy and that I am going to be okay. I long to melt into the arms of a safe place, let out a heavy sigh, and not be strong for just a moment- letting someone else hold my burden for a fleeting second.
God longs to be that person for us. Psalm 18:6 reassures us that God hears us from his temple and listens.
God heard me that night and gave me wisdom and patience beyond what I ever could have imagined. It was a rough and rocky year for sure, but we made it through. There were frequent skirmishes and I was on speed dial with the office for a quick student extraction if the situation warranted it, but for the remainder of the year some semblance of detente existed between us.
I wish I could say I changed my student’ life, but I didn’t. Odds are he is in jail now with the cord of defiance wrapped tightly around his heart. His defiance changed me though. I spent a year on my knees each morning crying out to God in my distress over this difficult student (and others who would follow in the years to come), and God heard me and listened.
What about you? What is distressing you right now that you need to take to God? I encourage you to cry out to him today knowing that he will hear your voice and will listen to your heart.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.