I always loved those energetic little boys in my classrooms with their mischievous smiles and sparkling eyes. They made me laugh even if they could be frustrating and disruptive as one of my students. But one year there was a little boy whom I ended up loving with everything in me as a teacher. I had no idea I could be so affected by another little soul until I met this child. For the sake of this story I am going to call him Isaac.
Isaac was a seven year-old foster kid with a rough home and a tormented past. He had fetal alcohol syndrome and deeply seated fears. His eyes were full of pain and he had a hard time in school.
Everyday was difficult for Isaac. He could fly into unreasonable fits of rage in which I would have to evacuate the other students from the classroom. He obsessed about small things as he tried to maintain control of his world. It took me about two months to gain his trust and have him believe that I truly wanted him to succeed. I think the first time I saw him smile it was so amazing that I almost burst into tears. After he realized that the other teachers and I wanted him to be successful, he worked hard to improve. But it was difficult. Every time he lost control and lost his temper again we had to start over, re-building his self-esteem and trust. His look of despair would break my heart.
That year there were often days where I had a headache from stress the entire time school was in session. It was difficult, but in Isaac's heart he meant no harm and he was trying so hard to move beyond his predestined pain. I was so proud him.
In the Bible Paul wrote, "What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath--prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:22-24)
We are all sinful little children, broken and destructive, but when I think about my experience with Isaac, I understand in part why God still loves us so thoroughly and rejoices when we choose to try to be different, to change, to grow. God knows how hard it is for us. He knows how much pain we suffer within our brokenness, but He cherishes the exact person that we are.
God's love is too powerful for Him to be hurt or resentful each time we fall apart. He only rejoices when we pick ourselves back up and trust Him to teach us a better way.
Are you feeling lost, frustrated, angry, and broken these days? Take heart. God rejoices in You, the child who has chosen Him.
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"...and God was already there with me."