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Back to School Joy


What do you remember about the first day of school? It’s always exciting, isn’t it? New clothes, new school supplies, possibly a new classroom, a new seating arrangement. If you struggled with your math last year, there’s good news! The new school year brings a fresh start. Even those of you who dreaded school must admit that you felt that certain spark the very first day. Now compare that with what you remember about the one-hundredth day. The feelings just aren’t the same. It’s not long until the excitement wears off, new clothes and supplies become old, frustration with classes builds up, and children begin making excuses to stay home.
I wonder if the disciples shared similar feelings the week after Easter. After Jesus died, confusion and dismay filled the disciples’ hearts. Fear was also present, as we know they had locked themselves in a room, afraid of the Jews. But all those feelings evaporated in an instant when their Lord appeared to them behind locked doors and announced, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) What peace! What joy! Their teacher Who was dead was now alive! Their lives, which appeared to be ending, had been restored! They were given a fresh start.
But how quickly did this excitement turn to dreariness as the days moved on and their troubles continued! We can only infer their reasoning, but it does appear likely that the disciples were still motivated by fear when, only one week later, they were once more gathered in a room with the doors locked tight. Then Jesus appeared to them again, answering their fear with those same comforting words, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:26) Will the excitement of the first day of school give way to dreariness in a few weeks or months? What can we do to prevent the gloom from setting in? Jesus’ solution for us is the same as the one He gave to the disciples: His comforting Word. Let us consider our Savior’s promises to us.
Are you excited about wearing a brand-new outfit when school resumes?
Well consider the even better clothes your Savior bought for you! “My soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10 ESV) These are clothes that won’t fade in the wash, that you won’t outgrow in a year. Christ’s perfection is always in style, and He’s made it yours to wear.
Are you worried about passing some more-difficult classes or finding new friends?
God has answers for you! “When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15 ESV) The God Who created math and physics, and your classmates, is waiting with a listening ear to hear your concerns.
Are you worried about simply surviving the long school year? Wondering how you can continue through the daily grind? “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6) Whether it is the first day, or the one-hundredth, or the one-hundred-eightieth, God promises He will remain with you. In His mercy, He will continue to pass over your sins. By His grace, He will continue to forgive your failures. In His goodness, He will continue to provide what you need to survive.
May the Lord bless all our students and teachers these next nine months, continually returning to them with patient reminders from His comforting Word. In Christ Jesus, the first-day-of-school joy need never fade away.
Samuel Rodebaugh is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Florida.