A Christ-like Approach to Adversity for Educators
By Donald Clark
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear the voice behind you saying, this is the way; walk in it. (Isaiah 30:20-21)
We are witnessing a time of great cultural adversity. The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving. Thousands are dying. There are numerous protests, racial unrest, and high unemployment.
I have witnessed personal adversity as well. My daughter’s wedding, scheduled for June, had to be postponed to a later unknown date. An annual family reunion was canceled for the first time in twenty-seven years. Many of us have experienced these kinds of setbacks. However, I was even more devastated when one of the teachers I prayed with for years at the school where we worked was murdered in March along with her two teenage sons.
I have also witnessed adversity in education as in-class school instruction was suspended for months. Primarily low income minority students were left out of online instruction. My wife had only six of 30 dyslexia students regularly participate in online classes. A friend teaching fourth grade at an elementary school serving low income children had only 10 of 35 students regularly participating. A high school teacher working with ESL students had only five out of 40 students participating. In a rural elementary school, students were trying to do their lessons on their parents’ cell phones but found they were incompatible with the on-line program the schools were using.
Amidst the many voices of fear and discouragement during this time of adversity, Isaiah 30:20-21 stands out as a beacon: “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear the voice behind you saying, this is the way; walk in it.”
Be still. Read this scripture several times aloud. Let it soak in and wash away the other voices you are hearing from the media, family and friends. It is the bread of life that eases our hunger when we are being fed the bread of adversity, when there is a famine of God’s truth and love in the land.
Who is your teacher? Do you see Jesus amidst all the smoke and fog of fear, confusion and people’s competing plans to deal with the adversity? Are you hearing Jesus telling you to turn right or left, stop, go backwards, or proceed with caution? Are you seeking His voice first amidst the cacophony of sounds?
Esther was a biblical woman who lived in a time of great adversity in an unbelieving culture with corrupt political leadership. She was living in a time at the height of a kind of racism which we can’t imagine. Her entire Jewish race, by government orders, was going to be exterminated as Hitler later tried to do in World War II.
Esther was told by her uncle what I am telling you now, “You were made for a time such as this.” (Esther 4:14.) Esther was chosen to be a queen by an earthly king because of her physical beauty. You were handpicked by God to live in a time such as this and work in education because of your hearing, obedience and courage—your spiritual beauty. King Jesus chose you to be his bride and queen.
While God worked behind the scenes, Esther and those of her race fasted and prayed for three days—a strategy Jesus later told us to use while battling spiritual strongholds (Matthew 17:21). Esther boldly spoke truth to the king thereby saving her own life and the entire Jewish race.
I encourage you to listen for Jesus’ voice amidst all the current cultural noise. Turn off the radio, TV, cell phone, and computer. Commit to reading the Word or inspired literature on a committed basis this summer. Get out in God’s creation more and listen to the water, wind, grasses, trees and animals. Do things that restore your spirit. Cherish and spend quality time with family and close friends. Whatever is right, good, and pure, think on those things. As the Holy Spirit leads, get in the “fast” lane. Fast and pray with other community members and educators. Watch what God will do.
Fully and completely trust and wait on the Lord—not medical science, politicians, educational leadership, or yourself. Inquire of the true King. Listen to Him saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Follow His directions. You will be glad you did and so will those around you.
Donald Clark is a thirty-three-year public educator of special needs students. He is the founder of the CEAI Houston Area Network and has been its Director for over twenty years. He has received the Texas Lifetime Achievement Award from the HEB Excellence in Education program and has received a state congressional commendation for his work with youth and educators. He has written numerous collections of educator devotionals such as Teacher Take Courage!, The Carpenter’s Classroom and Get Off the Bus. He has been published in the Teachers of Vision magazine and his work featured in Around the Word in 180 Days. He recently launched a new book, Peemail–Pet’s Healing Power, which is available on Amazon.