For the last two months, I have been teaching a high school Sunday School class and Children’s Church sessions. In September, I taught the preschool worship and currently, I am the teacher for our church’s worship service for 1st-6th graders. Also, for the last three months, I’ve been dealing with undiagnosed chronic pain that is only worsening. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to call someone and say, “I can’t teach today.” But we attend a small church. We had to revamp our Children’s Church program over the summer and start with a new team of workers. As the minister’s wife and a member of our Youth Ministry Committee, I felt it was my responsibility to share the teaching load and help train new teachers by letting them watch me teach. So I didn’t know who I could call to ask to substitute for me. Nor did I feel like I had a legitimate reason for bailing.
I’m a private person and I guess I suffer from the malady of pride. I don’t want to tell anyone why I hurt and I don’t want anyone to see me as weak.. It’s hard to ask for help. And I care passionately about teaching children. I get so frustrated when anything, like illness or pesky personnel problems get in the way of teaching our children about Jesus. I want to do my job well and I don’t want my physical pain to make me grouchy or distracted, or lessen my teaching in any way. Every Sunday, I’ve thought, “There’s no way I can muddle through this. I feel so bad. How can I possibly get through the next two hours of teaching?”
So I’ve turned to the Lord. Each Sunday, my prayer has been, “Please Lord, just get me through. Help me do nothing that would dishonor You because I don’t feel good.” Each Sunday, I’ve had to ask again. And again. I’ve asked my online accountability group to pray for me too. One Sunday I wondered if God ever got tired of “needy Karen begging for help once again.”
It is so reassuring to know God never tires of hearing us ask for help. I’m actually praying the prayer I should pray whether I hurt or not. The first of Jesus’ Beatitudes is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3). Poor in spirit means to be spiritually bankrupt, broke, utterly dependent on God’s resources because we have nothing left of ourselves and we recognize that we are nothing without Him. When we are willing to admit this, He gladly moves in so He can do marvelous things through us for His Kingdom.
Even through multiple visits to my primary care doctor, a battery of expensive tests and lots of research on the Mayo Clinic website, we still don’t know why I’m in pain; we’ve just eliminated the obvious. My pain is severe enough that I’ve been taking prescriptions doses of Advil and am now on a prescription pain pill to help me sleep at night. Yet, every Sunday, for the last six weeks, during the two hours I am teaching, I have been totally pain free. And I’m not just sitting down the whole time either, I’m jumping around, doing song motions, games, and striding across the room to solve disputes and retrieve forgotten supplies. It’s been totally amazing.
But should I be amazed? After all, we are talking about the Lord God who rules the universe, who has unlimited resources and ultimate power. Of course, He has the capacity to relieve a Children’s Church teacher of pain so she can teach His little ones. He has the power to do far more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20,21).!