Core scripture: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
Message: Everyone loves a good story. Stories help us reconnect. Have you ever been in a sermon where the pastor’s words are empty and lost to you … when suddenly a story is inserted, and BOOM! You are all ears! That moment is coming this Friday in my classroom.
Bullying is a major theme in the novel we are getting ready to read, Freak the Mighty. The protagonists, Max and Freak, are bullied for separate reasons, and I love resting on that topic for a couple days.
We define bullying. We discuss how to handle it as a bystander and as a victim. A few of the kids will share their personal stories—if they feel comfortable. And on the last day, I always share mine.
The kids don’t know it is my story. I tell them I am getting ready to read to them an eight-page narrative of a past student who was affected by bullying. The kid wished to be anonymous when he turned in his assignment, giving me permission to share it to students down the line.
Of course, my students always believe me. As I read the narrative of my 7th grade experience, they are all ears. Especially as I move into the climax of the story when I broke down in tears after a couple of the popular boys teased me.
That moment always gets me. My voice quivers a bit. Emotion spills out as I am reliving that awful moment all over again. The narrative ends soon after, and the entire room is left aching to hear more.
Then I insert an epilogue. I ask the kids how the young man in the narrative must have felt that day, and then I reveal that the story hits home because the young man was me. There are always some gasps. Sometimes there is silence. Other times someone will say, “I knew it was you!”
I will collect myself and plead with them one final time, saying, “I remember that day like it was yesterday. Nobody stood up for me. Not a single person. What I would have given if just one kid had come up to me and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I challenge you all to be that kid. Remember, you always have a teacher to talk to in me. Coming from a guy who has been there before, I can help.”
There have been some years when that offer opens the floodgates! Kids will wander in after school, they will email me, write me letters, you name it. They come clean about certain situations they see happening, and I help walk them through it. After all, I have been there before.
So has Christ. Consider the following …
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus took on human form just like us. He endured temptation just like us. He wept just like us. He was deserted just like us. He can pull us aside and empathize with us like none other. And just like we help others through this crazy life, He can help us, too.
I don’t know about you, but I need that right now. Whatever trial may be tearing you down, just know that Jesus is there to walk you through it. Take His hand. Allow Him to guide you. Open your heart to Him, and He will listen to every single word.
Because He cares.
Challenge: Do you have a personal story that could connect with the curriculum? Share it! You never know how it will impact listening ears around you.
Scripture study: 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Reflect on this verse. What does giving your anxieties to Jesus look like? How can He help you through a current trial you are enduring? What other biblical truths can you cling to? Consider discussing or journaling about any of the following scripture:
- “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:15)
- “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
- “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (Psalm 66:17-20)
Song application: “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steals my breath away
When my back pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all
I will cast my cares on you
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on you
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For your peace inside my soul
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for moments when we can connect stories from our lives to curriculum.
- Pray that God would open your eyes for opportunities to do this.
- Pray that we can all embrace Jesus as He helps us through our struggles.
Prayer: King Jesus, thank you for taking on human form so You can relate to us. Help us realize that truth and accept Your help during times of need. Amen.