Devotions for Teachers: Anxiety

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Psalm 94:19

It’s that time of year where many of us begin considering whether or not we can do this another year. Going to bed anxious, and still waking up anxious about all of the things we need to do, all of the stressful things that may happen, all of the things we can not control in our day.

Education is such a tough gig, because it’s a daily battle. We never have a point where we can just sit back, breathe a sigh of relief and say “whew. I’m all caught up and I can just enjoy the peace of this moment”. And that’s exhausting. It’s hard to imagine doing this day in and day out for another year.

If you’re in this tough place, know that I have been there, too, and I’m battling those same feelings. The Psalms help in times like these, because everyone feels so real in the verses. They are rejoicing God when things are going well, and they are sorrowful and anxious when things are not. That is real life, if I’ve ever seen it. Jesus commands us to trust in the Lord and to keep our eyes on Him, but in the midst of a tough school year, it can be difficult to remember who we’re living for-God or The Stress?

The thing that the Psalms sets a good example of is letting yourself be stressed and anxious for a hot minute, and then gathering yourself together and saying “OK GOD, you’ve got me, right?” Because He does.

Psalm 102 is the prayer of “an afflicted person”. We can all translate this to mean that he is dying. He starts off sounding weak and scared:

My bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass. I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.

Ok, so our teaching situation is not this bad. But we can all relate to the feeling of being so overwhelmed with where we’re at that it consumed our thoughts, right? We sit down to talk to JESUS and all we can talk about is how bad things are for us, like he doesn't already know? This next part is what we forget to do:

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord. The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the Earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, and release those condemned to death.

Soooo, he was writing this for us. He knew his situation was not so good, but he did not want his time on Earth to have been spent in vain, stressing and worrying about what would come next. He knew that one day God was going to save us all, and he wanted the people who ‘had not yet been created’ to know not to sit around worrying about what may or may not be. In the grand scheme of things, it’s all just a drop in the bucket.

If you’re in that moment, where you’re getting the Sunday Scaries, or you’re in a toxic school environment and EVERY day is scary, God is with you. He sees your struggles, but he also sees the good work you’re doing. He is proud of what you have done for those kids, but he also has a plan for you. You’re not sacrificing so much of yourself for nothing.

His plan will look different for different teachers. The plan may be for you to leave the classroom one day. The plan may be for you to stay right where you are and just shut the door and teach. The plan may be for you to move schools and connect with a new group of kids. But right now, you are meeting people, making connections, touching lives that you were supposed to. Where you’re at is all part of the plan.

To sum it up: we are all going to be ok. And in the meantime, while we’re waiting for it to be ok, we’ve got Jesus in our corner. And nothing that bad can happen when we have that kind of bodyguard. Let the anxiety go, sweet friend.

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Stephanie Sutherland