As a college instructor, I have the privilege of getting to see my students on their best days and their worst days. During the summer semesters, I see my students everyday for 6 weeks. Needless to say, by the end of the semester I have had a chance to really get to know them. I have enjoyed teaching both summer semester’s this year, and I have had some great students.
It doesn’t matter which class I’m teaching, by the end of term my students really start struggling. I always do everything in my power to try and help them, the material is just hard, there’s no way around it. It’s difficult to master 16 weeks worth of material in 6 weeks and be completely successful, and my students just break down. Many of them teeter on the edge of emotional overload. They try to manage my rigorous class, possibly another class as well, maintain their households, forge through family illnesses, balance friendships and other relationships, and somehow keep their emotional world from breaking apart. At some point a student is just going to crack, and it’s usually the last week in the semester that it happens.
I hate watching this process. I see the time and effort these students are putting into studying and practicing. They are living in the tutoring center, spending time with me one on one, and then when it comes time for the test, they still can’t pass it. It breaks my heart, because I know they know the material and I’ve seen what they can do, but for some reason there is just a mental block preventing them from being successful.
But the students that stick it out, the ones that overcome and push past their breaking points, they will reach a new level of security with themselves. Once they get through this tough spot and prove to themselves that they can do it, a fresh sense of accomplishment and confidence will form in them. They will no longer want to quit, but know they can push forward, no matter what hardships may come their way. They will know what it means to truly persevere.
I couldn’t help but think about how God must feel when we go through hardships. Just like when I see my students struggling so intensely and there’s nothing I can do but sit back and wait, sometimes God does the same thing. He knows that when we make it through the hard times, life will begin to look better again. He knows that he can’t step in and take the test for us; he has to sit back and watch as we break to pieces. Just like I anxiously wait for my students to decide to push through to the other side, God is is right there, waiting on us.
I love it when I see my students come out on the other side triumphantly. They don’t let their obstacles stop them from being successful; they use them as stepping stones to reach the next level. The same is true with God. It’s usually in those hard times, the times of brokenness, that we learn the most. We have to use the obstacles of life as stepping stones to reach new levels of trust and faith with Jesus. God never leaves our side when we are wading through deep waters, even when we feel like we are all alone. He knows us. He sees us. And he knows he can’t take the test for us. He sees us at our breaking points; and he can’t wait to see us make it through to the other side. Our faith will be stronger, our light will shine brighter, our trust will be fuller, and our God will have never left our side.