With the school year just starting, I’m sure you all will be learning and doing many new things. That can be a lot of fun, but it can often be hard too. It’s a challenge to understand new concepts and do activities you haven’t done before. Think about learning to read or doing math at first or learning to play a sport or the piano. Those were new experiences that took some time to understand and to accomplish. That’s what happened with some of Jesus’ followers a long time ago. Some of Jesus’ teachings were hard – just too hard – they thought, so they gave up.
Jesus was teaching about Himself in the synagogue in the city of Capernaum, and the Bible says that many of His followers didn’t really understand what Jesus was trying to explain to them. John 6, verse 60 says, “On hearing it, many of His followers said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Many of them started “grumbling” about what Jesus said, the Bible tells us. Then in verse 66, we read, “From this time, many of His followers turned back and no longer followed Him.”
Wow! Some of the followers got so upset and confused about Jesus’ words that they quit – just gave up – and left. I know sometimes when new things seem so difficult, it’s easy to get discouraged and want to quit. But that’s not the best way of handling it. These people lost out on learning what Jesus was teaching and were not just lost for the moment in what they didn’t understand, but lost forever. They had seen Jesus’ miracles and heard His preaching for a long time now, so they should have given His words a chance to help them understand who He really was and what He was actually trying to do for them. They gave up way too early and easily.
As this school year progresses, there will be times when the work is hard, and you may not understand it at first. Be patient with yourself when you just don’t “get” that new idea or concept. Ask for help, practice, and give it a little time to “sink into” that wonderful brain God has given each one of you! Pray that God will help you learn what you need to learn this year. Have a wonderful school year and enjoy the learning of new things! Remember: don’t give up on yourself! God never gives up on you!
Let’s say our prayer. Father God, help us all to have a great school year and learn many new things that will help us be better people. Help us also to learn many new things about You and what it means to be a Christian too. Help us not to give up when the going gets tough. Be with us as we go to school. Bless our teachers, school staff, and friends always. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.