When you repair a storm-damaged house, you may need to first strip it down to the bare frame. Sometimes God has to strip us down to basics, too.

That was only one of several life lessons provided last week from a seemingly unlikely source: high school students.

The first group for the new year came from Grace Christian Academy in Franklin, Tennessee. Mostly high school sophomores, these students amazed the staff with their energy, willingness to work hard, and spiritual maturity.

My husband is working with the relief agency Samaritan’s Purse on a rebuilding project in Houston, Texas, repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey more than two years ago. Each week, different groups of volunteers come to serve. I get to join the staff and volunteers for devotions every morning.

Two of the girls shared one morning about the house they were working on (they’d been on a team with my husband). This particular house had been damaged not only by three-foot-high floodwaters but also by a leaky roof. As a result, virtually every surface of the house had to be removed, leaving only the exterior walls and (most of) the interior studs. In the process, unseen damage was exposed and corrected, including the fact the exterior brick had pulled away from the structure. While this team was there, they removed all the brick (not an easy job) in preparation for new siding.

The spiritual lesson these students learned was that, as one said, “Sometimes you have to get really low before God can raise you up.” The house had to be taken down to the studs to reveal all the damage before it could be restored. Otherwise, new materials would have been added to a faulty base.

The other student described working on a door that required repainting. She had to scrape it down to bare wood in order to restore it to beauty, much as God does with our lives.

They also told of hearing from homeowners how the hurricane had actually been a blessing for them. Those Samaritan’s Purse has helped have gotten “new” (repaired) homes, made new friends, and in some cases, received the new life offered by Jesus Christ—things that might never have happened if not for the storm. As Romans 8:28 says, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).

Anyone who worries about the future of our society need only see the example set by this group of students to know there is hope. “It is not only the old who are wise,” according to Job 32:9 (HCSB). They may not have years of experience, but even at their young ages, they’ve gone through trials and seen God’s faithfulness.

So if you’re feeling like you’ve been stripped bare by the trials of the world, the advice from these young people would be to have faith that God is preparing to work a restoration in your life, based on this promise from His Word:

After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV.