Refuge

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea….
Psalm: 46: 1, 2

Not fear? While the earth and the mountains give way? I have to admit that if I were the psalmist, I would have written the passage differently. I would have written, “O Lord, as the earth gives way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, please forgive me as I run in the opposite direction!”

The psalmist embraces God as his refuge in the face of calamity, and declares that he has no fear. How is he able to have this peace?

No teacher enters the profession looking for pressure, mishaps, and the unhappiness that goes with them. And yet the challenges come: needy children to love, lesson plans to complete, parents to listen to, and administrators to please. Duty piles upon duty and soon the earth gives way.

What’s a teacher to do? One report finds that fifty percent of teachers in America leave the profession after five years. Although the reasons are many, teacher burn-out is a major one. Other teachers resort to complaining to their colleagues about the latest exploits of the hellions inhabiting their rooms. More frustration than calmness here.

The lesson of Psalm 46 for teachers is that overcoming fear and frustration is more than a teacher can do alone. In a later verse the writer says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” I have a friend who prays the same prayer each time he answers the telephone. “O Lord, help me,” he prays. Though uncertain of what message the telephone call will bring, he is certain of his help in the Lord. And that is enough for him.

What will you face in class today? Susan appears listless, and you wonder what is going on at home that may be troubling her. John is misbehaving again, and all his friends are laughing at him. Why do students come to class unprepared? And why are they so unappreciative of your efforts? When the questions mount, it is time to remember that your refuge is not in your own competence. It is the Lord who is your refuge, an ever-present help in times of trouble.

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.
– Prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Steve Kaufmann
Covenant College