Suffering Snare with Math Facts. Real Living, Part 12


Isn't patterning fascinating?

I still can remember my Grade 1 teacher. Oh, I can't remember what he looked like, and likely he wouldn't look that way anymore, but I will never forget his name: Mr. Drypants. Or that would be the English translation of his Dutch name. Now that I am a teacher myself, I can only image what kind of torment he must have had to endure from his Grade 1 students because of his rather unusual name!

But his name isn't all that I clearly remember. His Grade 1 Math class will be forever engraved in my memory as well! Never will I forget having to painfully agonize over reciting all of my multiplication tables: "1 times 1 is 12 times 1 is 23 times 1 is 3"

Pure torture! Why did school exist, anyway? Was it to remind us that there is a real hell out there? And to make matters worse, we had to repeat this lengthy process in Grades two and three as well. Twenty to thirty minutes a day, wasted in futility!

At least that's what I thought as I faced my torture sessions. In fact, I clearly recall thinking that it wouldn't have been possible for anyone to suffer more than we did during these hideous moments!

Now, years later, I am aghast at how kids don't know their math facts. Many of them still use their fingers to figure out some basic multiplication problems, even when they are thirteen years old! I guess there was some advantage to those torture sessions, after all! My Grade 1 classmates and I know the answer before we even have to think about it! All of that "drilling" paid off!

Suffering has a beauty in itself, no matter where it originates. Our perspective on it determines if we can appreciate it or not, and if we realize that it will always draw us closer to the Lover of our soul, we find ourselves rejoicing.

James has an interesting twist on the consideration of painful trials: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4 NIV)

Not only does James consider trials "pure joy", but he also refers to them as "the testing of you faith", even though you might not be in the middle of a witnessing session! Moreover he insists that those who persevere under heavy fire will be blessed indeed: "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12 NIV)

I realize now that my perspective during those elementary school math trials was more than a bit too negative. Now that I recognize the benefit of those torture sessions, I can call myself blessed indeed! I can literally multiply my blessings! Can you?

Rob Chaffart

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