Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Weekly Worship

‘Let’s all show up for the kids in our community’

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Each column I compose is an overflow of my heart and mind when I write. Today, I find my mind drawn to the idea of hope.

Several years back, I was honored to sit on a committee of public officials, parents, teachers, and influential community members to discuss issues facing our young people. A teacher on the committee made a statement that troubled my soul.

Various others affirmed the statement from their perspective; this only bothered me more. The statement was this: “Students today are feeling hopeless when it comes to their future.”

Hopeless. Our kids are feeling hopeless; sit with that for a moment. Ouch. I later sat with fellow parents during my daughter’s senior year of high school, where the vast majority confirmed their children felt hopeless. Hopeless.

While researching for this column, I came across this statistic from the American Psychological Association by Zara Abram, Jan. 1, 2023; Vol. 54 No. 1; page 63.

In the 10 years leading up to the pandemic, feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness – as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors – increased by about 40% among young people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

“We’re seeing really high rates of suicide and depression, and this has been going on for a while,” said psychologist Kimberly Hoagwood, PhD, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. “It certainly got worse during the pandemic.”

An already troubling reality has gotten worse. This reality saddens me for a couple of reasons. First, I am a huge fan and believe in the next generation. Kids rock; they have the capacity and giftings to change the world. My fandom comes from my being a parent and a pastor. I see greatness in our young people, and it breaks my heart that some might not see it in themselves.

The second reason I am troubled is that my faith in Jesus informs me that the very reason He came to earth is to bring hope. In Luke 19:10 in the Holy Bible, Jesus says His mission is to seek and save the lost. Broken, wandering, confused, hopeless people are what He is seeking. In Proverbs 23:18, we are told, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Romans 15:14 tells us, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

What was written in the Bible tells us of Jesus, who loves us, made a way for us, is with us always, is preparing an eternal home for us, and will bring those who trust Him to their forever home (John 3:16; Matthew 28:20; 1 John 14:1-6; Revelation 21). The Bible refers to Jesus as the blessed hope (Titus 2:13). He is the hope for tomorrow, today, and every situation. He is called the light of the world (John 8:12). Jesus lights the way, moment by moment, to the place of hope found in Him.

How I pray for all of our kids, and all people for that matter, that they would have rest for their souls and know the hope through Jesus that transcends the pains that are very real in this life. To any young person reading this: I love you. I believe in you. There is a promise of a better tomorrow. Hang tough; get help. Look to Jesus because He is your biggest fan. Adults, know the hope through Jesus, and let’s all show up for the kids in our community.

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