I have a homemade, unheated greenhouse of sorts in my garden this year that has been one of my favorite places the last several weeks. From it, I have harvested spinach, lettuce, cilantro, and swiss chard. Recently, I decided that it was getting warm enough and the plants were big enough that I should water with a hose rather than my watering can. There is a big difference between the force of water coming from a hose and the water sprinkling out of a watering can. The plants that I had so carefully protected for weeks immediately looked flattened. As I looked at them, I thought of my students and children. I thought of all of us.
In many ways we are like tender plants that have been hit with a spray of water. The past weeks have been challenging. Our school families and staff have had many new and difficult experiences. Some families are facing economic uncertainties. Students who were content in their routines have had what is normal completely upset. The people who would have provided a distraction and comfort in the hard times are kept at a distance. But like the water that flattened the plants is nourishing to them, the trials we face are good for us. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3 ESV) The plants will be better prepared for their day outside the shelter of the plastic because they have struggled inside it. Even knowing that, it is still hard to stand and watch the water bend the plants that I have been nourishing, and it is hard to see those we love struggle.
It is natural to want to protect those we love from hardship. It is hard to know that there is disappointment about missed events that will not come around again in childhood. It is hard to know that students would be learning more readily and thoroughly if they could be in a classroom with a teacher guiding them. It is hard to know that parents have had to step in and fulfill a role that they had asked someone else to do. Fill in the blank. What has been hard for you? On the other hand, it is good to know that God afflicts with purpose and that our momentary afflictions are preparing us for a far more exceeding weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV) It is good to know that His purposes and plans exceed ours, and He gives grace for everything He allows. Discipline, teaching and training, can be difficult but it is a demonstration of the love our heavenly Father has for us and proof that He is working to accomplish something in us. (Hebrews 12:5-11)