Here are some recent headlines that tell a very powerful story about depression and stress:
- For 80 Years, Young Americans Have Been Getting More Anxious and Depressed, and No One Is Quite Sure Why
- Anxiety: the epidemic sweeping through Generation Y
- Teen Depression and Anxiety: What Parents Can Do
- There’s a Startling Increase in Major Depression Among Teens in the U.S.
There are lots of different reasons and causes highlighted in the articles; single parent homes, economic hardship, social media and technology use, cyber-bullying, community violence, and the list goes on.
As we enter our Teen Winter Camp season I know we will come face to face with many of the symptoms of these and many other issues facing teens.
Is There Hope?
As someone who has been coming alongside at-risk teens and families for over 20 years the questions often facing them and the ones coming alongside them are these questions: Is there hope? Is there a tomorrow worth fighting for? Can something good come out of this?
The answer is yes and it’s found in the person of Jesus.
Now, that is a very dangerous answer because it’s not like Jesus is some “magic pill” that makes all the hurt and pain of this world just go away. It doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t promise that.
He does promise something all powerful to all who call upon His name – Himself.
After Jesus’s resurrection the disciples were afraid of their tomorrow. They were lost and directionless. In John 20, the disciples were given a very powerful experience and we all were given a promise.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”…
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
I love this story. You see, Jesus offers us something very powerful – Himself and the power of His resurrection.
Peace Be With You
Are you afraid of your tomorrow? Are you full of anxiety and stress?
Jesus says, “look here at my hands and feet.” As you look, you see the holes left by the nails that held him to the cross. You see the evidence of the one who has conquered death and sin.
What did he tell them and what does He tell us today? “Peace be with you!”
Earlier in John 16 he tells his disciples, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
They didn’t understand this truth at first, but that truth hit home as they gazed at their Lord and Savior who had the marks to show them. I think sometimes we forget as well. I know I do. There are days that are so uncertain for me that fear can be crippling.
Jesus gently knocks on the door of our heart. He reminds us…
He tells us to be of “good cheer” and to “take heart” because He has overcome and he beckons us to touch his scars once again. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us, “…For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses…Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.“
That’s my prayer for you and me this year. That we would be of “good cheer,” but not simply by trying harder or “bucking up.” That we would have the courage to truly invite Jesus into the fabric of our pain and stress. Not because He takes away the pain but because He promises to walk our journey with us.
Happy New Year from me and all of us here at MBC. May you know His peace this year and to know that you do not walk this journey alone.