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I recently heard a pastor state the following: stress doesn’t change you, it reveals you. I don’t know about you, but I have seen an awful lot of things revealed about people this year. Good things, bad things, some very interesting things. I have realized many things about myself as well, some not so pretty. Perhaps we share a few:

  • The unknown triggers fear
  • Fear triggers anger
  • Anger looks for a target to blame

On the other hand:

  • Shared gratitude goes a long way!
  • God knows us better than ourselves.
  • A listening ear is rare and very much appreciated!

Let’s briefly look at a few examples from the Bible.

  • Look what stress did to Jonah. He went running as fast as he could!
  • Judas—the almighty dollar superseded his relationship with Jesus
  • Peter—the quintessential over-reactor in every stressful situation. He denied Jesus, he spoke without doing any personal editing, and he even lashed out with a sword.

Then look at:

  • Daniel—he basically jumped into a lion’s den. Stress? What stress?
  • Esther—she showed courage and the art of persuasion in the face of a mighty king
  • Jesus—I don’t think I need to go into details here. Any comparison of Jesus’ reaction during a stressful situation to ours would be pointless.

Over the past 10-15 years, I’ve often asked myself the same question when I am faced with a decision: am I being Jonah, or am I a Daniel? Is the prompting I feel to leave/flee a situation the Holy Spirit nudging me, or am I, like Jonah, making a decision based on avoidance? If the situation (or job) I am in is difficult, is God asking me to stand firm? That tension is real.

Right now, I wonder if you would quickly think about what the stress of this past year has revealed about you. What fruit of the Spirit shone, and where or when did the light inside you flicker?

This year, when it’s all said and done, the light of Christ has shone brightly and boldly across the world. Though we were pushed and stressed, God is moving deeply within the walls of Christian schools. We are reimagining, refocusing, and reconnecting in ways that reflect the body of Christ. Yes, I realize that some days it we may have felt like only a dim flicker, but looking at the big picture, God has shined His face upon us very brightly. It has taken a group effort at every school site to make this happen. Teachers and administrators, boards and staff have dug in and done the hardest and most sacrificial work of their lives. God is honoring that. We have given more of ourselves than we thought we had, and we are standing at the finish line (mostly) intact.

In a recent blog post, author Rex Miller notes the following: We will recover and reenter. But doing so will require new levels of cooperation with, and care for, those around us. Our faith in God and our love for one another form the foundation from which to build resilience. The text is ancient, but St. Paul’s words read like they were written to us. Here. Today: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3–5NLT).

Take a deep breath. Reflect on God’s goodness, on what you can celebrate each and every day. Reflect, learn, and then move forward. You are God’s instrument—of kindness, peace, love, care, witness to your community and the rest of the world. That God would call us to that!

Remember, we get to do God’s work. We get to sharpen each other. We get to encourage. We get to share the character of Christ every moment of every day. We are a microcosm of the body of Christ. Imperfect each one, but made in the image of our Creator. May those truths and all of God’s truth shine brightly so that each of our communities may know that God is in your school.

In Numbers 6:24-26 the emphasis of using THE LORD three times reminds us that He is the source of all goodness in life. The emphasis on the Lord as the source of all these things is very powerful. Basically, God is saying, ‘My people, when you enjoy health, remember that My grace has given it to you. When you succeed, do not forget that I am its source. Recall that no good gift is possible without Me.’

Enjoy God’s peace as you celebrate His goodness in a job very, very well done this past year—and may He continue to reveal Himself to each of us in the next.

Author Jenn Thompson

Jennifer Thompson has served in Christian education for almost twenty-five years in various roles from basketball coach to science teacher, elementary principal to head of school at schools in both Florida and California. A native of Vermont, Jenn has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Wheaton College and a master’s in science in Educational Leadership from Florida International University. She completed the Fellows program at the Van Lunen Center for Executive Management in Christian Schools at Calvin University and currently serves on the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) board. Jenn is the chief executive officer of Christian Schools International.

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