For a while I had the privilege of teaching mathematics in a small high school in Boston. It was my first time teaching and, needless to say, it was a challenge.
Well anyway, after the first round of testing, the results came in. The results were pretty much what I expected: some very good, a lot pretty good, some not too good, and two really bad. OK, I thought, no big surprises. But, those two students were failing really badly. So I kept my eye on them.
Now, after the first test, I was offering one-on-one help for the students. Some kids would come to me individually, and some in groups. But the ones who failed very badly never showed up. But I kept my eye on them.
A few quizzes went by. No show. Then, the next test came up. I offered more hours for help. Still, no show. They bombed that one, too.
That’s it, I said. They won’t come to me for help? I bet they think I’ve forgotten them. I bet they’ve given up. I am going to go get them.
I noticed that they had a study period together at the same time that I had a period off. So, I went to the study class, politely asked the teacher to dismiss them, and called them from the doorway, “Brian, Dave.” I waved them to come out to me. A little embarrassed, they picked up their bags and made their way to the door.
When they came out into the hallway, I said, “I know you two are struggling in algebra. Well, now we are going to do algebra. Tell me everything you’re struggling with – we are going to find a room to sit down in and do this.”
They got a private tutoring session from the teacher for almost an hour. So many little misunderstandings were unraveled. All the little kinks that turn into big errors and broken confidence were ironed out.
They couldn’t believe what had happened. They thought they were forgotten. The teacher actually came for them? Are you kidding? Their grades improved, and more, they knew me. Everything changed after that.
We all know the story of the repentant thief who was crucified with the Lord. Let me ask, what had the thief done with his life? How had he done on the tests of life? He had been a criminal. That means that he undoubtedly caused a lot of people pain and suffering. Now he was paying the price by being humiliated and tortured in front of the whole city of Jerusalem. That’s in front of family, friends, strangers, enemies – everyone. Talk about rock bottom. Talk about failure. You know what I think he felt like? Hopeless. Afraid to go near God. Forgotten by God. “Lord, remember me when you shall come into your kingdom.” (Lk 23:42)
You know what? The Lord remembered him from the very beginning, in His eternal begetting from the Father. He remembered him through His conception in Mary’s womb, through His baptism in the Jordan, through His prayer in the Garden of Olives. He remembered him through the hammering of the nails.
He never forgot him. He always had His eye on him. And now He had come to get him. At the very rock bottom, the thief had a private tutoring session with the Teacher of teachers, and everything changed after that. “And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.” (Lk 23:43)
If you feel hopeless, afraid to approach God because of your failures in life, remember, you are never forgotten by Him. He never gives up on you. He always has His eye on you, and He will come for you, and when He does it will be a great day. You will have a private session with the Lord.
Everything changes after that.