I know you are familiar with headaches and throataches and stomachaches and all kinds of other aches from being around kids–sick and well all day.

But I’m not talking about those kinds of “aches.”

I thought of the word “teacherache” because it’s what I’ve been feeling today: aches from being a teacher.

I guess there could be a long list of teacheraches that we could joke about all day. There’s the bathroom joke, the go-to-bed-early joke, the full moon joke… you get the picture.

Friends, today I do not write about those silly yet totally real aches.

Today I write because my heart is aching from being a teacher.

We can’t talk about the specific stories for confidentiality reasons, but oh how we sometimes want to scream our children’s stories from the rooftops.

We walk by a student in our classroom and our minds wonder how their time away from school is. Did they get to eat? Were they scared? Were they alone? What did they see?

We come to an empty desk, absent for what reason? We may never know the truth.

Another student suffers often, if not daily, from a loss in the family.

Another student has been crying a lot recently and stories just do not match up.

Story after story.

We ache for justice for these children. We ache for truth for them. We ache for them to have dreams. We ache for them to get help. We ache for healing in their families. We ache for their family. We ache to protect them. We ache to provide for them in anyway we can. We ache for them to be heard. We ache for a childhood for them.

We ache, and we pray. Behind every child is a story. And a teacher sees it all in the child. We know where some say their stories might lead, but we pray instead because we have hope for them. We believe in them and their amazing ability to make people laugh or convince someone of anything or draw with amazing attention to detail or know everything there is to know about science. We also believe in the deliverance and grace of God.

We know this is just part of their story. And so we pray them through this part of their story– no matter how much it aches us to care and to love and to pray, though I should pray so, so much more for them.

These are Holy aches. Aches that come from a place of love and mercy. Aches that are small in comparison to the aches God often has for us when we hurt or have chosen to disobey him or run away. Aches that are always ready to receive. Aches that move us to action.

May we listen closely, pray without ceasing, and love them with great mercy and compassion.

But may we never believe that we are alone in our aches for these children.

“Jesus loves the little children” with so much more mercy and grace and knowledge and perfection than I am capable of. So I place my trust in Him.

Father, put your hand of mercy in every broken home this evening and speak peace over those precious children. Calm them with your Spirit. Protect them and deliver them in their current situation. Help us be present for them in the ways they need. Help us to hear what they need us to hear and see what they need us to see. Give us the wisdom to know how to move to action for them. Help us to love them enough and trust you enough to pray. Move us to pray, Father. You are our Rock and our Healer.