There are 2,038 middle schools in Texas, and I teach at the 19th hardest.
My students are terrified.
Like Taiwan, competition rankles among friendships, and pressure damages families. Students come crying to me about a 90 and stress in class over a 97. And one of their greatest fears is that their teachers will not be good to them.
As a teacher, it’s hard to see my students so crippled in fear that they cannot enjoy what we do in class. It’s hard to watch worry flood their eyes every time I call them over to my table, or the frantic fumbling of their hands when I call on students for answers. Sure, they think I know my stuff, but they also expect me to hide behind tables, waiting for an opportunity to throw a failing grade at them. They’ve said their past teachers were distant, leaving them to “watch their own backs.” They’ve learned to like teachers, but rarely to trust them. Maybe it’s because we hold their grade in our hands, or the very fact that we give assignments. Whatever the reason, they do not think we can be good to them.
I, too, have been living in fear. In years past, I was subconsciously convinced that God lurked around corners with “bad situations,” waiting to dump a load of difficulties on my head. I believed He looked for opportunities to punish me, to call me out on sin and failure and use that as a reason to give me undesirable things. I thought that if I told God what I really wanted, He would make sure to never give it to me.
Like a sovereignly sadistic Santa Clause.
I knew God loved me in some transcendent, ethereal manner and that Heaven would be much more than “nice”. But did God like me enough to give me good things here on earth? And if He liked me today, would He still like me tomorrow?
How I viewed God also affected how I approached people – could I trust them to both love and like me? Could I believe there was selfless like in addition to selfless love? Could I trust, could I give, could I be at peace?
The Bible, the Word of God, the Revelation of life, tells us that God not only loves us, but He wants to give us good things:
“. . . Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7: 9-11
“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:68
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
I cannot convince my students that I want to be good to them. Telling them to relax and trust will do nothing if they themselves do not choose to do so.
In the same way, I must choose to believe that God wants good – present good and ultimate good – for me. My difficulties, while molding for me, have grieved Him. My pain, though instrumental in growing character, was not of His making.
He delights in me.
Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like,
but I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night.
You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone.
You’re a Good, Good Father,
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are,
and I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am
He’s a good, good Father.