“But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

James 4:6-10

“You’re safe,” I said under my breath, watching the two teenagers standing at my side. “You can do this.”

Both squinted back at me, nervousness evident in their expressions. In front of us, homeless men and women crowded each other in line at the food bank, their clothing streaked with sweat and ripe with odor.

“You can do this,” I repeated. It was the first time that either one of them had ever interacted with homeless individuals. Though they were doing their jobs, politely handing out meal tickets, their apprehension was clear.

Older generations are time-tested, secure in the years of highs and lows under their belts that give them the confidence to know they can withstand the new experiences and inevitable storms of life. Our younger generation, however, is still building up this resiliency of character. They lack experience and are still developing their understanding of self. Couple this developmental stage with a total disruption of life when COVID-19 swept through the world, and the result is many in this generation can’t even identify the emotions they’re feeling.

The resulting confusion leads to conflict in their souls. Without the confidence in their identity in Christ and without the tools to know what to do, they struggle to find confident footing. For many, it’s easy to immerse themselves in frivolous distractions rather than face the difficulties in front of them.

Outwardly, Gen Z brims with confidence and asserts their opinions loudly, in person and online. Inwardly, however, many of these same young people confide that they’re overwhelmed with apprehension and deep anxiety about their lives, their futures, and the state of the world around them.

We must maintain a balanced view of our younger generation: they’re both brash and fearful, simultaneously passionate and hesitant.

We can listen to their hurts, mentor them, and share the wounds from our own lives to reveal the struggles Jesus has carried us through.

Young people need reminders that just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad for them. The wisdom of older adults can ground them and encourage them to stick with the challenges that will shape their character. James 4:10 reminds us, “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Our young people need to dwell on the truth that humility in spirit is essential to their walk, as Christians, and that they are safe in His hands.

Join me in praying this prayer over our young people:

“Heavenly Father, we know that You walk beside us and carry us through the difficult moments in our lives. We pray that our young people see Your presence in their lives, and that they grasp how deep and wide Your love for them truly is. Help this generation to ground their identity in the truth that they are Your beloved, forgiven children. We pray for the anxieties and fears that crowd their minds, and for humility of spirit as they are reminded that true peace and freedom comes from You. Amen.”

Discussion Questions:

Use these within your family, staff, or friend group to have helpful discussion about this younger generation.

  • Where do you see Gen Z battling anxiety and apprehension about their lives, their futures, and the world?
  • What story of hope that you’ve experienced might be a blessing to share with someone else?
  • How can you intentionally listen and seek to mentor the young people around you?