It feels like we just move from one crisis to another these days, doesn’t it? For the record, that feeling increases if you regularly watch the news on television. Remember, news programs get more viewers and sell more advertising when there is “major news,” or in other words, some kind of “crisis.” So, be aware that every news organization loves a crisis and is willing to exaggerate everyday problems or situations to create them daily.
The problem is that all this media-crisis surfing, on top of the daily struggles of life, has a lot of people stressed out, exhausted and maybe even depressed. As a result, we really do have a mental-health crisis, perhaps even more so among our kids, teens and young adults.
These recent generations have been fed a steady diet of depressing and hope-zapping “news” that tells them things are only going to get worse in their future; economically, environmentally, and even personally. Even worse, they’ve been taught that there is no absolute truth to believe in. They are “free” to think and believe however they want; unfortunately, it leaves them anchorless, free-floating in non-stop insecurity and angst. And if, as they’ve been told, there is no loving God who truly sees them and loves them just as they are, then the non-stop ugliness on social media is the only mirror they have, giving them a twisted and negative sense of their own worth.
So we owe them some good news!
Jesus offers us some in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus told the truth about life; he was no politician, telling people what they wanted to hear. He said, you’re going to have trouble. The truth is that life has never been easy in any generation. Easy isn’t the goal. And trouble and hard times don’t eliminate joy or meaning in life, in fact, they tend to enhance both. By the way, the fact that Jesus and the Bible never hide from hard truths is exactly what make them trustworthy.
Second, He offers peace in our troubles. In the passage that precedes this verse, he’s giving his disciples a heads up about the fact that things will get harder for them very shortly. He doesn’t warn them to scare them or to get their attention, but to let them know that He can give them a sense of calm, of true peace even while they are going through hard times. It isn’t the “head-in-the-sand” pseudo-peace of denial, pretending everything is okay. It is the peace of a little girl sleeping peacefully through a scary storm in a father’s arms; the storm is real, but she trusts her father to keep her safe.
Finally, He promises victory in the end. He already won the battle against hate and lies and sin. He overcame, so we can have hope… hope for joy and peace even in the middle of the struggles of this life… and hope for an eternity joyfully spent at His side free of crises, pain, shame and disappointment.
Every generation, not just the younger ones, needs to hear again, the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There is still a hope and a future before each of us and to get in on those plans, we just need to do what it says in the next two verses.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”(Jeremiah 29:12-13)