2 Cor 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all-sufficiency in all things you may have an abundance for every good work.

This is my 3rd year teaching one particular French class and I have let this class color my school life. I live with daily discouragement.   When I teach their class, I feel inadequate as a French teacher. It’s partly because of their personalities and partly because I have not yet developed sufficient skills with TPRS® (teaching proficiency and reading through story-telling), the foreign language methodology I use for French.

They are a quiet group of students with little inclination to use their imaginations. Their lack of participatory energy makes my skills all the more necessary to carry the class.  I feel like a stand-up comedian whose jokes fall flat.  It’s uncomfortable.  My French 1s and 2s are very imaginative and eager to create stories.  It’s easy to work with their momentum and interest.  We play a mutual game, this tossing language back and forth.  Class with those two levels is productive and satisfying because the burden is shared.

My daily negative evaluation and self-talk is ongoing.  But so are my prayers.  My verse this week has been Paul’s encouraging words meant to assure us that we risk nothing by sowing a lot.  If we sow much, we will reap much, because it’s God who causes the increase.  Let me assure you that I sow plentifully and pour myself into this class and still feel pathetic as a teacher.

I’ve been talking to God a lot these days.  My conversation has been something like the elder brother – “Lord, I’m working really hard, reading what other practitioners write, trying new things and I’m frustrated. I pray continuously and acknowledge that I am helpless and needy.  You know that I have limited time and can only invest so much into lesson prep.  I’m offering the widow’s mite, the 5 loaves and 3 fishes, depending on you to make it be enough.  I’m not even asking for leftovers.  Just make what I have to offer be enough!!!!  Why don’t you help me?  It’s not fair!!”   I can be VERY whiny!!

But this morning I had a glimmer.  Something worked well in French 2 and I saw how I might be able to apply it to French 3.  Could it be that God is letting me just stew and struggle against the waves and find my way?  I don’t want that.  I want the rough waters to part. I want smooth sailing.  I want to feel like I’m a competent teacher with skills that always work.  I don’t like living like one of those salmon struggling to make her way up stream.  I don’t like being the caterpillar pushing against the cocoon.  In short, I don’t like on-going flailing, depending on God and waiting for His help.  But maybe more is at stake in my struggle than just feeling comfortable with my skills.

This morning I was reading in Charles Spurgeon about a time when a heaviness would not lift.  He had been feeling despondent and finding no sin to repent of, he wondered at his depressed state of mind. He repeatedly asked God to restore to him a state of thankfulness and joy.  As it happened, a very troubled man came to him for help that Sunday after services.  Because Spurgeon had been feeling so empty, he was actually able sufficiently to identify with the man’s feelings and offer him Gospel hope.  Now he saw why God had allowed him to remain discouraged.  He would not have been able to connect as well with the miserable man who sought him out.  Spurgeon’s conclusion was that sometimes God causes us to feel a certain way for the benefit of someone else.  If we belong to Him, we should submit to however God chooses to use us.

So, dear Lord, I will labor on and trust that you know what you’re doing with me and this French class.  May your will be done!