“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I looked up with a smile on my face, the glitter of fireworks dancing in front of my eyes.
Around me, though, every teenager in my youth group flinched, hands clamped over their ears. A few were crouched in their chairs, terror etched on their young faces.
Less than two decades separated us in age, yet my students existed in a completely different world than I grew up in. Whereas my instinct was to respond to the surprising bang of fireworks with joy, these teens defaulted to their secret terror of a rampaging shooter in their midst and sheltered in place–the result of growing up in a world of fear.
We can be tempted to dismiss the real worries of our younger generation, calling them degrading names and rolling our eyes at their concerns. To Gen Z, however, the world they’ve grown up in has been filled with threats of cruelty and terrorism, shootings in movie theaters and malls and classrooms.
On top of their fears about violence, our young people are afraid of their futures. They’re inordinately worried about school, careers, relationships, and mistakes. As we watch this generation grow up, we’re seeing big decisions delayed, out of fear—everything from obtaining drivers’ licenses to marrying and having children.
Christian adults can speak into this climate of concern by inviting young people into dialogue, asking their opinions on what is wrong and why, and allowing them to offer suggestions for how to positively impact the world around them. Research on children who have survived deep trauma shows that hope is one of the most critical defenses against fear. So, too, is inviting young people to be a part of the process of shaping their world for the better.
Young people need reminders that true peace is found in Christ alone.
As Proverbs 18:10 reminds us, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
No matter what the future holds, fear can be kept at bay with the faith that our Almighty God is by our side through the best and worst moments life offers us.
Join me in praying this prayer over our young people:
“Dear Lord, we realize that we live in a broken world full of pain and darkness. It’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed by fear and the monsters lurking in the unknown. Help us to find courage and trust in You, the Light that pierces the darkness and the Hope that conquers all hate. We thank you, God, for Your Son Jesus, who sets us free from sin, death, and the devil, and gives us reassurance of a life yet to come. In His name we pray, amen.”
Use these within your family, staff, or friend group to have helpful discussion about this younger generation.
- Where are you sensing young people showing their fears?
- How can you create a safe place for young people to share their real anxieties and worries with you?
- Where can you speak truth into the lives of teens to remind them that true peace is found in Jesus