Its January 2023, a new year.
It’s been a rough few years collectively, it’s not too often that the entire community is subject to complete and utter disruption, and yet that is where our journeys have taken us.
Unsurprisingly we have all responded in different ways, and endured similar but different journeys, and even experienced the virus in similar but different ways. Each new year we have looked ahead to the one to come and wondered what was next. For our young people, this too has been challenging, for some the uni experience was not what they were led to believe they would experience, others NCEA, still others intermediate and transitions from one level of schooling to another. Even pre-schoolers and babies have experienced the world differently to the one their parents experienced in a more extreme way than the usual shifts and changes that have been happening from one generation to another. In addition, families have separated, painful health diagnosis have been received, income has become even more stretched and so much more.
Stressful events are a part of our lives, and have been so for millennia. Storms of one thing or another happen, wars, weather events, disease, earthquakes and tsunami’s all serve to remind us (sometimes to our outrage) that we are not really all that powerful, not as in control of life as we want to be.
I don’t understand what has been happening, any more than anyone else can understand, and significantly less than many. But, I do know, I have learnt, that our God is with us in all. Lamentations, in the Old Testament, is a book of lament. The people are mourning the destruction of Jerusalem (again) and they are asking many of the questions we may be asking in the quietness of our hearts. Their grief is pouring out… their anger, their sadness, frustration, confusion, fear… it’s all there on the pages! And yet, within, are those little snippets of faith that become anthems that musicians remind us of over and over again. Like this one
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
As we journey with our young people, and they too struggle with the micro and the macro of their lives do we offer them opportunities for them to be honest with God? To pour out their fears, confusion and pain, but also find their way to choose to trust in the faithful love of God? Are we willing to be honest about our own struggles? From these pandemic years we know we can adapt, we know we need time and space to process, and we can also walk in the knowledge that God is present in all. It may be a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day choice of faith, but that’s what all of life is isn’t it? A degree is earned by a series of choices to study, do assignments, attend lectures; a relationship is built by a series of choices to connect, listen, care; a challenge is conquered by the series of steps taken to conquer it. So our relationships with God are a series of choices to turn our eyes toward the Living God with our ‘stuff’ and allow our burdens to become a little lighter and our hearts to be transformed by the love of Jesus.
This term we journey toward Easter, with that the 40 days of Lent for preparing ourselves for being confronted again by Jesus extraordinary love . Maybe a worthwhile time to offer your young people the opportunity to lament, as well as put their faith in Jesus.
we know you are faithful. We know you love us so very much, but at times, life is just hard, confusing, and we are sometimes afraid.
Jesus, you knew we would be because you reminded us so often not to be afraid!
As we begin a new year of loving, caring and listening to our young people, help us to both be honest with you, and trust in your faithfulness! We pray for our young people, that they grow in their faith over this year, and they too would not be afraid, but discover just how very faithful and trustworthy you are.
Living God, move amongst our ministries, our leaders and our communities today and all days.
If you’re not sure about ways to invite young people into lament, check out these blogs from Fuller Youth Institute on enabling lament and worship to be a comforting part of life in youth ministry.