I’ve been reading about the iGen / Generation Z / whatever label you want to call them which they will reject Generation… And it is sad, but makes sense how many are “not religious, but spiritual” and decreasing in their belief in God (even though they are increasing their belief in the spiritual world??) that they would become an “unchurched” / Post-Christian generation.
Everything they are exposed to is tolerance for everything and everyone with a “you do you” and “get yours” mentality. And while I think it is important to love everyone (“your neighbor as yourself” (Lv 19:18; Mk 12:31)) it is a slippery slope to let that love mean that there is no moral truth to which everyone should strive.
This latest generation is being raised in a society where there is no alignment to a higher moral truth. The higher moral truth comes from Christianity — it comes from God — and it is for the greater good. But since it reeks of religion and authority it gets rejected. Since it feels like someone is forcing you to accept something you may not be so sure about it is easier to steer away from it then to work to understand it and hold on to it.
The “buffer” that Christianity has provided to everyone to date is erased. God didn’t promise you wouldn’t suffer — in fact He pretty much promises that due to the existence of sin there will be suffering (Rom 5:12-21). With God and following Jesus we can know how to handle that suffering (2 Cor 1:3-7). Without God and without Jesus as a guide we can look at life and feel all the suffering within us and see all the suffering around us and despair because “what’s the point of it all?” Without knowing you are called to a higher purpose, to a life in God, to unite that suffering to Christ’s you can be weighed down by the world’s brokenness. And we sure live in a very, very broken world.
God didn’t want the world to be broken. But we broke it when we allowed sin into our hearts. Jesus came to redeem us from that brokenness (Jn 3:16-21). But until the world ends and God’s Kingdom comes we will all experience what it means to live in a broken world.
Without God as your personal rock no wonder the youth suicide rate is climbing, hopelessness abounds. Without a Christian foundation for life one likely does not know how to handle suffering. The overabundance of untethered sinful stimuli bombarding the soul 24/7 cuts deep, wounding the soul over and over. Without a belief in “a higher power” one lives a life unmoored from the dock of God’s care.
Keep in mind God didn’t untie the rope and send us off adrift, it is we who loosed it, who threw it off and undocked from the surety of God’s presence and love. Because of this we are awash in a sea of aimless boats, drifting on whims and tides. We’ve been this way so long we have forgotten that there is a shore of safety and a lighthouse guiding us back to it. All we can see is an open ocean of nothingness with no meaning.
Give me social media. Give me streaming TV. Take my mind off the sea around me. I will hunker inside my isolation and try to ignore just how meaningless it seems. And dare I remember then I am tossed in a torrent, in a whirlwind storm which batters me from all sides and dares me to jump from the ship and into the deep, uncaring waters. Because after all what’s the difference? It doesn’t matter.
But it does matter! You matter!
Life can feel awful and unbearable and isolating and like “nobody could possibly understand”. But you’re wrong. Jesus understands. God understands. God doesn’t want you to suffer. He wants you to trust and follow. Your life may be inside an omnipresent storm cloud but even inside that mess God is there trying to guide you to shore. God wants you in His arms. In His arms you may not avoid more suffering, but while you suffer you can know that you are being loved and hugged as tight as He can hug you.
And you don’t just have to “live with it” or “deal with it”. You can bring everything to God. You can be honest with Him. You can tell Him all about just how awful everything is (Job 7:1-21). And He will listen. You may not get the miracle, the suffering may not end, or He may not work on your timeline (Job 30:20) – but you can trust that He is there for you. You may not see Him. You may not feel Him. But He is there (Job 38:1; Ps 34:18).
You can unite your suffering to Christ’s suffering. Offer it back to God for “the greater good”. This is why it is such a tragedy that the world is becoming a God-less world. The godless cannot see the hope. They cannot focus on the eternal vs the temporal. They cannot see the point of it all.
But the point is there even if you don’t recognize it. So your challenge is to believe it exists. The challenge is to trust that there is a greater purpose to life and that even the suffering can have a purpose.
The challenge is to become moored once again.
It will not be easy. It will likely be a difficult and harrowing journey back to the shore, to a dock of safety. But it will be a worthwhile journey. Reject the life of relativism. Find a way to see that there is a truth. Do your best to forge a path closer to the shores of that truth. You may understand it 0% at the start, but as you get closer you will understand more and more. You will find that society has lied to you in 1000s of little and major ways. You will no longer be aimlessly adrift, but instead you will start to glimpse the Truth and once again dock within God’s care. And once you know the Truth, the Truth shall set you free (Jn 8:31-32).
“With God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31
“Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him,* “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” – John 3:16-21
“Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned …… For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous. The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5;12-21
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
“Is not life on earth a drudgery, its days like those of a hireling? … So I have been assigned months of futility, and troubled nights have been counted off for me. … My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; my eye will not see happiness again. … My own utterance I will not restrain; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. … So that I should prefer strangulation and death rather than my existence. … Why have you made me your target? Why should I be a burden for you? Why do you not pardon my offense, or take away my guilt? For soon I shall lie down in the dust; and should you seek me I shall be gone. ” – Job 7:1-21
“I cry to you, but you do not answer me; I stand, but you take no notice.” – Job 30: 20
“Then the LORD* answered Job out of the storm…” – Job 38: 1
“Then Job answered the LORD and said: I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. “Who is this who obscures counsel with ignorance?” I have spoken but did not understand; things too marvelous for me, which I did not know. “Listen, and I will speak; I will question you, and you tell me the answers.” By hearsay I had heard of you, but now my eye has seen you.
Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.* – Job 42: 1-6
“The righteous cry out, the LORD hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him from them all. – Psalms 34: 18-20
“He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” -St. Augustine, Confessions
“The third step of isolation from Christ is the most destructive because it involves the development of a false identity. After the first two steps are accomplished this last step places the individual in an adversarial role against Christ. The person in this situation no longer identifies with Christ or sees value in having a relationship with Him. A new identity or false face begins to develop that aligns more with the devil than Jesus Christ. It becomes more difficult to turn away from evil as the new identity begins to develop as a normative way of living. ” – Dr. Marlon De La Torre, MA, MEd.,PhD: The devil desires to isolate you from Christ, don’t let him