There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
There is a boy in my 7th grade CCD class, whom I will call T. (not his real initial). T. has a medical condition that causes him a great deal of suffering. I didn't know about it until 2 weeks ago. I mean, it's on my class list next to his name, but I have to confess that I hadn't paid too much attention to it since the beginning of the year and T. had never exhibited outward signs of his condition.
Last night, I got the chance to talk to T.'s mom. We'd distributed report cards in the last week of January and had parent-teacher conferences and she wasn't able to make it. (Her family's been having a tough time right now, so they can really use all of our prayers.) Here is part of our 20-minute conversation:
T's mom: A few weeks ago, I don't know what you were talking about, but T. came home and said something to me...
Me: Oh, gosh, it could have been anything...we've been talking about a lot of stuff in class lately that's got some of the kids talking in school outside of our class time...
TM: Yeah... I don't know what it was, but he came home and he said to me, "I know why God let me have [this medical condition]. It's so I can show other people who have it that you can have it and be ok. That's what God wants me to do, to show other people with [it] that I'm OK and they can be OK too."
Me: Oh, wow.
TM: So I don't know what you said...
Me: I don't know either, but it was the Holy Spirit. Praise God. That's just so beautiful. Praise God for that.
On further reflection, I know what we were talking about in class. A week or two before Christmas, we were talking about why God lets bad stuff happen. It's the eternal question, isn't it? Why did God let 9/11 happen? Why hurricanes and earthquakes? Why doesn't he just put his hand down and stop it?
I was frank: I don't have all of the answers. I know that we all have a great gift from God: free will, and God does not interfere with that. But, I firmly believe what I told them next: even though bad, terrible things happen, God works immense good out of the results of those bad things.
I told the kids that I have lost three babies, two to miscarriage and one to an ectopic pregnancy, where I had internal bleeding and had emergency surgery. And I don't know right now what good came from those miscarriages. I do know that if those babies had been born, I probably would not have my younger two kids right now. But I know that I have three children in heaven who pray for me and I know that God will bring much good out of that suffering my family endured.
And T. was listening. And the Spirit moved him, at the age of 13, to do some REALLY deep thinking.
It's not easy to tell with teens when they are listening to you. They act too cool for you and what you have to say. But I am starting to figure out that they are listening ALL THE TIME and that the Holy Spirit moves them when we least expect it.
But all things happen in His time, don't they?
What I have learned is that I have to be open, to witness, and to try not to get in the way of the Holy Spirit doing His thing.
Praise, to you, Lord. Thank you for letting me be T.'s teacher. Thank you for letting me be in their lives this year. And please keep me out of your way.