After graduating high school in 1997, I planned to attend a four-year college and pursue a communication art and design degree. It just so happened that my mother’s cousin was the owner of a successful graphic design firm a few hours from us, and she arranged for me to spend the day with him. He was encouraging but told me, “If you are serious about a career in graphic design, you go to Alex Tech.” Alex Tech was a two-year program, but it had a reputation in the industry for producing great graphic designers. At the heart of the program was an instructor named Craig Bjerke, better known to us as Mr. Bjerke.

Mr. Bjerke was a no-nonsense kind of guy. On the first day of class, he told us, “Look at the person sitting next to you…” My eyes fixed on the young man I was sharing a table with, and his eyes fixed on me. Then Mr. Bjerke said, “This course has a 50% dropout rate; one of you will not be here at graduation.” I was terrified. I didn’t like the odds, and to make matters worse, computers were central to the program, and I’d never worked on a computer before.

A few days later, the course load increased, and I was still struggling to learn the software. About four hours into my first big project, I was starting to feel good, and that’s when it happened. The lights in the computer lab flickered, and all the screens went black. You guessed it; I had yet to hit save. My project was lost. I was defeated. I was destroyed. I went to my locker, convinced I was done, but I was so flustered I could not remember my combination. So, I just sat down. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, my tormentor appeared. Mr. Bjerke was standing over me. As I sat on the floor, my back against my locker, I expected no mercy. I expected to hear him say, “Get up, and get out! This program is not for you.”

Life is full of challenges and trouble, computer crashes and chaos. We bring much of it upon ourselves, and much of it seems to come upon us without warning. We are both Eve in the Garden of Eden—who could not resist the devil’s temptation, and Job in the land of Uz—who was righteous and blameless before God. In the chaos of life, it can be tempting to think that God is a big tyrant who enjoys our suffering. That he watches from a distance in judgment, believing we are getting what our sins deserve. But that could not be further from the truth.


We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

As I looked up and saw Mr. Bjerke standing over me, I felt small. But then the unexpected happened. Mr. Bjerke left his position of power and, right in the middle of the hallway, he sat down. At that moment, the bell rang. I was embarrassed and wanted to stand up, but Mr. Bjerke didn’t move. He didn’t stand up. He just sat there amid the chaos (students coming and going), and he said this: “You’re going to be all right.” And over the next two years, he made sure that I was.

God has every right to show us no mercy, but instead he does the unexpected. He sent his Son. Jesus left his position of power, and he became like us, for a little while, that he might say to us, “You’re going to be all right.”

Do you feel lost and defeated? It is not true that you are. In Jesus Christ, we have a God who understands the chaos. He is with you amid the trouble, and he has given his life to ensure that you will make it through.

Rev. Troy Tysdal is Director of Communications and Prayer for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.

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