Flu season is upon us and the people around me are dropping like flies. I myself went down for the count this week. Because of my stubborn nature and refusal to admit defeat, I have been going to my teaching job every day and attempting to maintain some of my dignity in front of teenagers. The coughing was bad enough, but that all led to affecting my voice. I began the week sounding like a pre-pubescent boy whose voice cracked occasionally, to ending up sounding like someone’s elderly grandmother who still smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. Not being able to raise my scratchy voice above low talking, I found it challenging to garner the attention of a classroom of teenagers using what I had. Not being able to rely on words, I had to rely on other means, all of which required much patience. I was reminded of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, who faced many hardships in his church in Ephesus, as Paul reminds him to “keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (4.5). As I stared out at my rambunctious juniors, I wanted to use my words to quiet them, but being unable to, I looked for the patience to smile, wait, and listen for when they were ready. (It’s amazing just how quickly they stopped and how quiet they remained afterwards.) A little patience in hardship is a strong ministry for those around us. Word quickly got around the school that I couldn’t really speak and consequently, I found myself smiling more in the halls at students and fellow teachers instead of speaking, a response that was met graciously by those who knew I was suffering physically. I can only attribute that smile to the joy Christ has placed within me, as my body did not want me to smile, but I couldn’t not smile. I don’t say this to lift up my own efforts, as it is not me doing it, but to point out people’s reaction to joy in the face of hardship, as it has a lasting effect on those around you who see the joy in Christ that we have. So, this week, as you find yourself in difficult hardship, no matter how small (waiting in line a little too long, encountering a worker who gets your order wrong, having an inbox that is overflowing), take the time to allow Christ to flow through you and smile at what really isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It may be the best glimpse of Christ’s love that the people around you see all day. Amen.