While praying through the halls of a central city elementary school, a teacher approaches me, asking if I am waiting to speak with someone. I explain that I am praying for the school and ask how I can pray for her or her classroom. An incredulous expression appears on her face. “Prayer?” Sigh… “Please pray that we would make it through the day.”
Minutes later on my way back through her hallway she stops me to clarify her earlier prayer request. She explains that since her classroom is filled with emotionally challenged kids, they need help daily just toreach the finish line of the dismissal bell. It appears from her demeanor that the 5-6 kids must feel to her like 50-60. The daily downward spiral starts out with them “play” fighting but as their emotions take over, the fights become real.
“We just need to make it through each day.”
Jesus, these kids need Your healing and peace. And their teacher needs strength and endurance.
Circling through the cafeteria, I watch as kids open their pre-packaged breakfast foods, served to them at no charge. A kindergarten boy is reprimanded and sent directly to the office.
Wondering about the infraction, I wind back through the building, taking a seat in the office. I end up waiting for about 20 minutes to meet with the principal.
Never a dull moment in the office, the sad looking boy coughs periodically while staring at the floor. His stupor is momentarily broken as he jumps up, asking the secretary if he can return to the cafeteria because he is hungry. Eventually his mom arrives and they begin their walk home.
Blood pressure rises with the news of a student with a concealed weapon. Kids run in from the bus, alerting the secretary to the danger. Apparently the firearm is simply a toy, placed there by the boy’s brother. Nonetheless, a suspension is the consequence for this belligerent young man.
I feel like I have just peeked through the keyhole in a door. These few moments of walking the halls heighten my senses to the fact that much more is going on than I had imagined. I am tempted to shelf my plans for the day and simply observe the ongoing struggles from my perch in the office. Struggles of children, of teachers, of administrators. Tears well up in my eyes as I head back to meet with the principal.
My heart overflows with a myriad of emotions. Admiration for the principal as she lifts up her hands and heart to the Lord, asking Him to bring significant healing and change to this community. Empathy for teachers who feel they are at the end of their rope. Gratitude for the smiling student teacher with a skip in her step. Sadness for the children shouldering the consequences of the dysfunction handed down to them.
Come, Lord Jesus, come. Come change hearts, minds, emotions. Change this generation.
Refusing to give in to despair, I turn my face to heaven as I exit the building. Bleak circumstances give You an even greater stage to display Your glory. The end of the story has not yet been written.