Hope For a Generation of Tears

I hardly knew Sierra*.  We’d played soccer together a little when we were young, and hung out from time to time at high school basketball games.  That was about it.  So I was surprised when she came to me, asking me for advice about her boyfriend.  “He’s so suspicious of everything I do…he never trusts me.  I hate it…and I hate the way he treats me.  I feel like I should break up with him…but I don’t know.”

To me it seemed painfully obvious.  I knew this guy had a reputation as a cheater and a flirt.  Any girl with self-respect would know exactly what to do.

“Sierra, you need to move on,” I told her, “This guy obviously is using you, and his suspicious attitude, plus his past reputation, suggests to me that he is the one who may be cheating.  God loves you and values you.  So why are you wasting your time with someone who so clearly is not His best for you?  You’ll only hurt your heart.”

It was like a light turned on for her…flooding her confusion with clarity.  Maybe no one had ever told her before that she was valued and loved by her Creator.  Maybe it had never occurred to her that she deserved respect from guys, and that she didn’t owe them her body or her heart.  But she was so thankful and so accepting of what I had to say.  Soon afterwards, she broke up with her boyfriend.  And that was good.  But what she really needs isn’t a nice guy…what she needs is Jesus Christ.  She’s still lost without Him.

Stories like Sierra’s make my heart ache.  So many teenage girls and guys stumble through these emotional, confusing, dangerous years with little to no guidance.  So many of the teens I know and love spend their weekends partying or risking their lives and the lives of others by drinking or smoking weed and then getting on the road.  Sometimes I get the chance to have a good conversation with them.  Like with my buddy Cole, who grew up with an alcoholic parent who just didn’t care what decisions he and his siblings made, at school or on the weekends.

“People think I’m lucky because my parents have a lot of money,” he confided, “But I’m not.  The way my dad was hurt me so much.  He’s not drinking so much any more, though, and I never drink.  I can, because my parents don’t give a rip.  But I don’t.  I’ve seen what it does to people.”

I knew that Cole would go to the parties where his siblings or friends got drunk, so that he could be their sober driver and keep them safe, when he was only fourteen years old.

Another good friend of mine came to a Christmas Eve service at my church with my sister and I.  Afterwards, Mark* said that he had to leave early for “something”.  I knew that he was talking about a birthday party a girl I knew was throwing.  I remembered reading her open invitation on MySpace.  “Bring money or alcohol,” she had instructed.

“I’m not gonna drink!” Mark said when we asked him not to go, “I’m just gonna hang out.  I promised her I would go.”

“You will drink,” we replied.  “Once you get there, you will.  You won’t be able to be the last one standing…the only sober person.  You’ll give in, just like almost anyone else would under temptation like that.  Be honest with yourself.”

Mark was.  He hung out with some buddies instead.

I was thankful.  Because in the small town where I live, a gut-wrenching number of teen accidents occur.  And almost all are alcohol and drug related.

I remember Ryan*, a freshman, telling me how his older brother’s best friend brought marjiuana to a party.  “I liked it,” he laughed.  I wondered what kind of a person would try to get a kid stoned.  What kind of a role model he must be.

My heart bleeds for the teens I know…the cycle of hidden pain, of futility, that they live in.  Many of them have parents, but live as virtual orphans because their mothers and fathers offer little discipline and love and no guidance.  These young people cover up their misery with attitude; laughing and joking as though nothing could be better.  Getting wasted to dull the poignant emptiness of it all.  Never even admitting to themselves that they are their own worst enemy…destroying their own lives in its earliest, most vital stages with bad decisions that mount and swell and grow and may one day drown them.  This is truly a generation of tears.

All over the world teenagers are reaping the bad decisions of our parents.  We grow up in moral relativism, taught that tolerance is the key to peace and that right and wrong values simply do not exist.  It is hard to beat the odds.  God is gone from our schools…ripped out by the adults who teach that we deserve to make our own decisions about faith.  And yes, we do, but how can we?  When Christianity is regularly mocked and ridiculed, not only in entertainment and the arts, but in those very classrooms which are supposed to be little worlds of open-minded thought?  It is said that we don’t care about the world around us.  Perhaps…or perhaps we do care…too much.  Huge problems are thrown at us…AIDS, the national debt, global warming, terrorism.  Thrown on the shoulders of a generation who is, perhaps, keenly sensitive to the pain of it all.  But we can do nothing.  We feel totally and completely helpless.  Every day brings the report of a new tragedy, a new dilemma…genocide, slavery, natural disasters, climbing divorce rates, abortion, crime.  There’s so much, so much, to do.  Some issues we feel passionate about…we long with all our souls to change things.  But how?  There is just too much.  And so, perhaps, we dull our senses.  Because we know that if we care too much about the things we feel we have no power to change, we will go mad with the misery of it all.

This is a generation in need of hope.  I firmly believe that it is a strong generation…perhaps the best America has had in years.  Brilliant minds and strong hearts fill this nation as never before.  I have seen it…and you have, too.  Many desire to change the wrongs and the sins that would be treated as “normal” (i.e., the growing teenage movement for sexual purity).  It is no wonder Satan would do all in his power to squelch and silence and suffocate our voices…to waste this generation.  We hear adults talking about us with doubt…but let us be optimistic.  Let us apply ourselves and grow and change and become.  In a culture of lies, look for truth…the voice of truth, which is Jesus Christ.  He is the spark of transformation that this lost generation so desperately needs.  And when we find Him, and rejoice in Him, and spread His name…things will change.  The look of confusion I see veiled thinly on the faces of so many of my peers can be changed into a deep and abiding sense of peace and purpose found in the gospel of Christ…who is the great Changer of hearts and souls and minds and men and times.

I have some gospels of John from The Pocket Testament League (www.pocketpower.org).  I know that they have the power to change lives, because they are the words of God.  Just little things I can hold in my fingers…around fifty or sixty thin pages long.  On the glossy cover is a picture of wild horses galloping through a sunlight-stroked, dusty prairie.  And five words: Let God set you FREE.

I plan to give these gospels to my friends…people like Mark and Ryan and Sierra and Cole and all the others I know who so desperately need to be set free from the lies and the threat of futile, wasted lives.  They are lost and this is the Way (Jn 14:6).  I will pray for the boldness and the clarity I so desperately lack (and need) so that I may to share not only solutions to moral and relational problems…but God’s remedy for the great problem of the soul. 

Because I am convinced that all the hope and the change that our generation needs is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In a rugged cross, an empty tomb, and a life lived in worship to a coming King.

 

 

*Names and some details changed

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One Response

  1. This topic is quite trendy in the net at the moment. What do you pay attention to while choosing what to write about?

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