I could tell by the look on his face that he was lost.
My son was a 6th grader, standing behind a podium in his school’s library frantically trying to remember the part of his speech that came next. He had won the classroom-level speech competition and had been invited to compete against other classes at the next level of the contest. He had invited me to watch the competition that morning but then greeted me at the library door with the news that he had lost his notecards. He had no copies of his speech and only his memory to draw from.
There was no time for him to recover. He was scheduled to speak first, and he was going to have to muddle through. My heart ached for him, and I wanted nothing more than to whisk him out of that room so that he wouldn’t have to struggle. Three minutes felt like 30, and I was relieved for him when it was all over. He didn’t win the competition. But he survived.
And then he found his notecards inside his binder. And we had a much-needed discussion about organization. And I was thankful that I was there to “dust him off.”
Watching our children struggle can be heart-wrenching. These little people are ours to protect and guide and teach. And even when they fall short or get it wrong because of choices they have made, it’s difficult to fight the urge to rescue them. And it’s even more difficult to equip them to endure the struggles that will surely come.
My daughter has been facing a prolonged struggle at school against a culture of negativity. She has run for office, spoken at meetings, painted bleachers, decorated hallways, rallied support and met with more than a few leaders in our community. The movement enjoyed some early support and she was pleased when many of the students responded positively to the efforts.
But then she was publicly sent out of a meeting because of a misunderstanding between teachers. And then some teachers were less-than-forthcoming about the events that led up to the ejection. And she was chastised for repeating something an adult said to her. And a few adults failed to take a stand when she needed them the most.
And unfortunately that’s just life sometimes.
But there’s good news in this story, and it’s this: I was at home the day that the drama exploded at school, and I was able to drop what I was doing and meet with her for a few minutes when tensions were running high. I should have been working as a substitute teacher that day, but through a strange turn of events, I wasn’t. So I met her in the foyer of the high school and encouraged her to hang tough. I discouraged her from giving up, and I reminded her of Esther, a young Jewish girl in the Bible who found herself in a position of royalty during a time when Haman, a Persian official, wanted to eradicate the Jews. The story challenges that Esther was raised to her “royal position for such a time as this” and affirms that God is sovereign and always in control.
I left my daughter at the high school, and I was encouraged a short while later when, while editing, I found a scripture reference that said “Let us not lose heart in doing good.” So I sent it to her. And I was encouraged again when I received an email from my small group leader at church… about the story of Esther. I forwarded the email to my daughter with a note that we should make sure we don’t miss what God is trying to tell us. And then I watched in awe as the same kind of thing happened repeatedly over the next few days.
Some would chalk it up to coincidence.
The point is that, regardless of whether you are in the camp that believes that God still speaks, He does. He speaks to us through the music that we hear, the words we read, the people we encounter, the trials we face and the circumstances in our lives. His sovereignty doesn’t change simply because we don’t see it.
My friend Jimmy Burgess said it like this: if you drive a Jeep Wrangler, you tend to notice other Jeep Wranglers, because that’s what you’re familiar with. It’s what is relevant in your life. You don’t notice Chevy Malibus on the road, because you aren’t looking for them. They aren’t relevant to you. God doesn’t disappear from my life simply because I don’t make the time to acknowledge him or because I’m not looking for Him. He’s always there. It’s just that when I’m in tune to what He’s doing, I’m more likely to notice. I’m more likely to catch what He’s communicating.
I’m thankful for the past few days, in spite of the fact that they have been so hard on my daughter. I’m grateful for the reminder that good things happen every day, whether we’re watching or not. Like when one of my daughter’s teachers dropped everything to console her after the meeting debacle. And then another teacher who witnessed the ordeal texted me later in the day to make sure my daughter was ok. And I’m inspired by the fact that my daughter has used the experience to re-evaluate her priorities and rethink her commitments.
Don’t miss the good that is happening today. Watch for it. Actively seek it. More importantly, be open to opportunities to be part of the good that is happening.
It’s happening whether you choose to see it or not.