“’I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”’
“I feel sick,” Ava said quietly, as we piled onto the bus.
“What’s wrong?” I replied, scanning her pale face. We’d been having a great time on our mission trip, and Ava had been in high spirits all week.
“It’s my AP test,” she answered. “I get the results tomorrow. I’m so nervous. I can’t even enjoy life at all right now, I just keep worrying about this.”
I bit back my quick dismissal of her worry. I thought back over the previous months where this high schooler had studied hard for her test, and the numerous texts she’d sent me about it. Despite the fact that we were in the middle of a long-anticipated trip and busy nearly eighteen hours a day, Ava’s anxiety was evident.
Though she’s a model student who gets perfect grades and is adored by her teachers, the pressure that Ava still feels is unrelenting. And what’s more? Ava’s story is just one, among thousands I’ve heard from young people.
As we consider how to encourage and uplift our younger generation, we must first acknowledge the depth of their anxiety. The crushing weight of balancing relationships, academics, social media, sports, success, identity in the aftermath of a discouraging and unpredictable year are significant. It’s not unusual anymore for me to hear grade schoolers talking about college.
While other generations have experienced challenges, many of today’s teenagers are struggling to cope. The reasons why don’t really matter nearly as much as our response to their pain.
As Christians, our duty is to meet the pain of our young brothers and sisters with love and truth.
Young people need us to direct them to comforting message of John 16:33, where Jesus reminds us that no matter what we face, He is still in control—and that we can take refuge in that: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Join me in praying this prayer over our young people:
“Jesus, help our young people to find their comfort in You, and in You alone. Remind them that their hope is not found in test scores or paychecks, in pleasing people or getting attention online. Give them the fortitude to soldier on against their struggles and the focus to concentrate on You amidst the other distractions and pressures in their lives. Keep this generation grounded in your Holy Spirit, gently guiding them back to the truth that You are their source of hope, life, and forgiveness. In Your holy 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 in your life struggle the most?
- How are the pressures of young people different and similar with the stresses that previous generations have experienced?
- What can you do to share a word of encouragement or Godly advice in recognizing the pressures they’re facing?