The JOY of God’s Presence
by Michelle Keso
A declaration I hear and read often is, “The demands on a classroom teacher in the 21st century are increasingly difficult.” This statement has never been more accurate, especially with the adaptation of many instructional practices due to the impact of COVID-19.
As I observe my colleagues teaching through a screen, teaching both in-person and online, or teaching in a classroom as an isolated cohort, there is no doubt that teachers are struggling to make all the needed adjustments. As educators, we pride ourselves on our ability to model persistence and resilience, or as we call it, “grit.” We expect this of our students, and so we commit to this ourselves. We also embrace the notion of a “growth mindset” because we welcome challenges with an attitude and belief that we can learn to do anything. Yes, we are a strong group of humans, evidenced in teachers’ tenacity when our profession abruptly shifted in early 2020.
As we acknowledge the changes, we admit our weariness. As we surrender to the demands to pursue innovative solutions, we realize our emotions are frayed. As we recognize our need for peace, we admit our need for the Lord’s presence, experienced through the work of the Holy Spirit.
At the start of 2021, I chose a verse to pray regularly. Psalm 21:6-7 says, “You have granted her unending blessings and made her glad with the joy of Your presence, for (s)he trusts in the Lord, and through her unfailing love of the Most High, (s)he will not be shaken.” As a fellow educator, I choose to pursue God’s presence because He has promised to bring joy despite our profession’s inevitable challenges.
How can we pursue God’s presence and experience joy? The answer may sound cliché, but it is the simple truth of prayer.
When we express our thoughts and feelings to the Lord in prayer, He turns His ear to us and hears our prayer (Psalm 17:6). This verse also tells us that He answers our prayer, which happens when we read the Bible or sense the Holy Spirit’s prompting. In these moments of exchange with the Father, we feel His hope, faith, and love, bringing joy to our hearts.
As we accept the challenges and embrace the changes in education, our dependence on God increases. His strength is made perfect in our weakness when we welcome His Spirit in our prayer times. We can pray the words of Psalm 21 declaring that He has made us glad about the joy of His presence because we trust in the Lord. There is divine refreshing that takes place when pursuing His presence through the discipline of prayer. We need this experience, offered to believers in Jesus Christ, more than ever.
The outcome of our present circumstances in education is still unknown, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for responding to the challenges. Despite the circumstances, we can work and serve others full of joy. As a Christ-follower, we can be confident that God will be true to His Word and fill us with joy as we choose His presence each day.
Michelle Keso is a sixth-generation believer who serves as an educator, speaker, and prayer leader. Her heart is to see strong instructional practice in all facets of education, in order to promote critical thinking and a passion for learning. She serves an Area Coordinator for the ministry, Moms in Prayer International. Michelle holds a master’s degree in elementary education, multiple certifications, and participates in educational associations.