“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:15-19
My phone lit up with a string of text messages. I glanced at the clock, noting that it was nearly midnight. What was this middle schooler doing up so late?
I opened my texts and starting reading, the sad saga of a young teen struggling with eroding friendships and battling significant conflict with her family. Her family had been spending more time together since the pandemic first forced them into quarantine but fighting between her siblings and parents had steadily increased.
“I don’t know what to do anymore,” she texted me, along with a flurry of broken-hearted emojis. “It seems like every single relationship in my life is different now, compared to just a few months ago.”
It’s no secret to anyone who works with young people that relationships are a constant source of joy, pain, bewilderment, comfort and conflict. It’s a hallmark of young adulthood to survive the tumultuous years of changing friendships and significant others, and to navigate the tricky dance to independence with one’s parents.
Gen Z is experiencing an accelerated pace of change, however, due in part to social media and COVID-19. Something as innocent as more “likes” on a photo posted online can cause friendships to spiral. Increased time at home and increased worry about the future has caused many families to crackle with tension.
Heartbreak and relationship tensions are part of growing up. But when these tensions are experienced by a generation who’s already overwhelmed, the burden can seem too heavy to bear.
In stark contrast to the changeable world around us, Christ’s love is steadfast and secure.
As 1 John 4:16 tells us, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
Take time to gently guide young people back to God’s love, when their world feels like it’s falling apart. They can trust in a God who is constant in His relationship with us when the people that matter most inevitably let them down. No matter what changes they experience in relationships, their connection with the most important person in their lives—their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—will never change.
Join me in praying this prayer over our young people:
“Dear Jesus, in this disconnected world where people are so consumed with themselves, help us to see the community around us and the need for each other. In spite of the frustrations and pain that come with relationships, help us to see that we are better together, as a family of believers. We are Your beloved children, joined together in Your grace and Your love. Help us to be there for one another, and to rejoice for those that You have put in our path. Allow us to recognize that we are not alone, and that You are always with us. In Your name we pray, amen.”
Use these within your family, staff, or friend group to have helpful discussion about this younger generation.
- Where do the young people you encounter struggle the most with relationship pain?
- How can you help this generation see the contrast between God’s steadfast love and the world’s fickle love?
- No matter what relationship changes we experience, our relationship with Jesus will never change. How can you share this important truth with the younger generation?