Compassion When It’s Hard: The Story of a First Year Teacher

It’s been a while since I have made any posts on my blog. I couldn’t think of anything to write about in the last couple months, since this blog has been used in the past for posting about what God has been teaching me Between work getting busier this year and unanswered prayers stacking up, I honestly haven’t been seeking God very earnestly.

In this Lent season, I downloaded a new app that is changing my patterns of reading God’s Word and changing my mindsets. This app She Read Truth is amazing. The app is free and bible plans are a couple dollars each, but they’re really good. They also have free phone backgrounds to download which are really helping me memorize scripture like I never have before.

Each week the bible plan gives you a new verse to memorize and a few weeks ago I memorized Acts 3:19 which says, “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing can come from the presence of the Lord.”

I had a cool moment in church this past week where a guest preacher was speaking-an African American missionary serving in Karamoja, Uganda. He spoke on Cultural Repentance, how all our cultures are different yet they all come from the world and what our respective countries have come to find is “correct.” Yet we ALL need to be repenting (literally from the Greek means changing your mind) of our cultures and living more in the culture of Heaven in order to bring Heaven to earth. Good sermon. Anyway, he ended by saying he was going to read a verse from Acts. Acts 3:19 popped into my head, seeing as it’s the only verse I have memorized from the whole book, thanks to She Reads Truth, and I thought, “he’s gonna read Acts 3:19.”

AND THEN HE DID.

Pretty cool.

But thanks to this app, I have a new routine that has me reading and processing God’s Word every day. And these few months, as I get over myself and the misplaced hurt I felt about God not answering my prayers the way I wanted him to, I’m settling into this new routine, and God has immediately began teaching me things again.

Now many people know, I never imagined myself teaching high school kids, especially at 23. And even before spending three months living in a Ugandan village as a missionary, I had no desire to teach privileged children. Yet here we are.

This year I’ve been struggling with these kids who have everything they want, in a country where so many go without necessities. I question why God put me here when kids talk back to me and take advantage of the resources at the school they’re blessed to attend.

In the last week of term 2, I heard a girl tell her friends her voice was hoarse because she spent all night screaming at her mom. Apparently this was caused by the girl’s mom having changed her mind about taking the family back to their home country for a visit over the summer holiday when she previously said they would travel back.
This is a girl many teachers have problems with. She hates that she is living in Uganda because she doesn’t feel she has enough freedom. She comes to school in the improper uniform and often refuses to take part in lessons.She is disobedient and says off the wall things to receive attention.

I so often look at this girl and wonder what it is about so many teenagers that keeps them from being able to make the best of the situation they’re in. But God knew I was struggling with her that day, and that’s when He spoke to me through Jesus, Lazarus, and the She Reads Truth iPhone app.

In John 11, sisters Mary and Martha are grieving because their brother Lazarus has died. They are upset that Jesus didn’t come sooner because they knew He could have prevented the death, had he been there.

If you’ve read the gospels or been in Sunday school as a kid, you know that Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, though he had been in the tomb for days. But before He did that, (the shortest verse in the bible, John 11:35, says) He wept.

Two things to take from this:

1. Jesus grieves with us. God is a sensitive and empathetic being. Throughout His Word He promises us that He will never ever leave us (Deut. 31:6, Deut. 31:8, Josh. 1:5, 1 Chron. 28:20, Psalms 37:28, etc.), so we should never believe that God is not there, even in the difficult and sometimes tragic experiences we go through.

2. Jesus knew what He was going to do. He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet he still grieves with the people. He is compassionate-not only does He grieve with us through our struggles, but He grieves with us EVEN THOUGH He knows the future; even though He knew their grief was just about to end.

Jesus knew the future that Mary and Martha did not. And that is why He is compassionate with them.

I think I’ve had a hard time being compassionate for my students because I think they should know what I know.

I’m not that old (at all) but particularly in the last couple years, I’ve learned some things about making the best of situations, adapting, overcoming unmet expectations, loneliness, and resting in God’s provision day by day. But many teenagers, including my students haven’t yet learned those things, and to be honest I was probably one of them at their age. I’ve been expecting my students to know whatGod has taught me about life-when many of them don’t even know Christ at all-and I’ve been having trouble being compassionate with them because they hadn’t yet learned what I assumed they should already know.

This week as we finish up the second term of this terribly/beautifully/frustratingly difficult school year, God shows me that He is never done teaching me. I have so so much farther to go.

This place is not where I imagined myself; I can think of hundreds of other scenarios I’d rather be in which God could use me to love on His people and share His gospel. Places where life is simple, and the kids are sweet and respectful and grateful for what they have. But these scenarios are the way I think He should use me, they’re not what HE has planned for me right now.

And how would our hearts ever become more like Jesus if God only put us among the people that are easy to love?

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Some students of mine on a class trip to Western Uganda in January 2016.

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