Learning in War Time
When we began our Home Learning program to continue the education of Trinity students, the learning curve seemed pretty steep for teachers, students, and parents. I remember taking a deep breath one day, needing to step back a moment and steady myself. That’s when a sermon by C.S Lewis came to mind and gave me courage.
In the autumn of 1939, as Nazi Germany threatened Britain with invasion, Lewis preached a sermon known as Learning in War-Time. Like us, the people of that time were wondering why they should continue something they might have very little chance of finishing. They also felt it would be coldhearted and unfeeling of them to continue their studies when their friends and families were dealing with the desperate circumstances of a World War.
We might wonder the same things today; “Why keep learning when we don’t know what will happen with this dreaded virus? What is the point of studying when so many are dying and many more are losing their jobs? With so much pressure and anxiety for the future, wouldn’t it be best for everyone if we just call it a day and end classes?”
Quoting I Corinthians 10:31, Lewis explains that every duty should be offered in humility to God: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” He goes on to say that for some, learning is their duty at the moment and they should work at it with all their heart. He acknowledges that those who embrace this idea may still find it difficult to work with excellence because of three main reasons: excitement, frustration, and fear.
-Excitement occurs in good times and bad. We may find ourselves facing the tendency to think and feel about Covid-19 because it is new and frightening. However, there will always be rivals to our work. As Lewis wrote, “The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come… We must do the best we can.”
-Frustration affects many when the task seems too difficult and they worry there will not be time to complete it. Lewis reminds us that the future is in God’s hands. “Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord’… The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”
-Fear can be a formidable enemy. Much like Lewis’s wartime England, an unknown virus threatens us with real and dire peril. We can no longer live in a thoughtless or reckless manner. “War makes death real to us: and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it would be good for us to be always aware of our mortality.” As FDR said in his First Inaugural Address, speaking to a nation in the grip of the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
As we finish the school year, let’s encourage our students to learn as much as they can and let nothing hinder their pursuit. May God grant that the Trinity ‘Ohana would be characterized by the deepest love and encouragement of our students. May they make history as those who met the challenges of Covid-19 with unflinching faith, creativity, and joy.
Question: Do you feel like you’re “learning in wartime?” In what ways are you rising to the challenge? How do you encourage yourself and your children?