In the holidays, I watched the Netflix movie ‘The Apostle Paul’. It was a confronting movie in the fact that at this point in history, Christians were persecuted and killed in such inhumane ways. Yet in the midst of this Paul, in prison, beaten and heading for execution, was still able to encourage others and remind them to, “wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them.” (Roman 12:14) Given the circumstances of the time, with Nero’s Circus, where Christians (even Saint Peter) were being tortured, torn apart by wild animals, crucified and set on fire as human torches, Paul reminds us that love and forgiveness are more powerful than hate.
In fact, most of Paul’s letters that are in the New Testament were written in prison. Philippians has a reoccurring theme of rejoicing and joy, not something that you would think someone would be focusing on while incarcerated. The Bible has always challenged us to not let circumstances rob us of our joy. In COVID times when every second letter I have to write is informing parents that they are unable to attend a significant event in their child’s life it is hard to “rejoice”, but for our children’s wellbeing it is essential that we do. How important is it that our children are praised for their hard work and achievements in such a challenging year?
Research has shown that verbally expressing gratitude to those close to us helps us to increase and sustain our wellbeing. The positive effects are that it improves our ability to connect with others, makes us more optimistic and happier, decreases envy and materialism, and improves the health of people with physical ailments (Emma Seppala PH.D, Psychology Today, 2015).
I think we will all look back at this time and go, “Wow! Glad we made it through that!” I hope, in the midst of this time, our children feel they had moments to celebrate and were encouraged and praised for their resilience and effort throughout this year.
I have been encouraged by our students who continue to achieve and participate so well in their learning. This week I visited a year 7 History lesson about Egypt, where the students had investigated mummification and had mummified a chicken. Practical fun learning! In the midst of a difficult year we still can find gems of achievement, learning and development. Like Paul, we can rejoice in the fact that despite the circumstances we find ourselves in, we can still celebrate the small achievements made each day, knowing that a loving God cares for us and that we will get through this time as a community.