Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life Can Be Painful, But There is Hope

Life can be painful. A few months ago I spoke to a large group of teenagers who had gathered for a youth rally in our area. Though I did not know all the teenagers who were there, I knew enough of them to know it was a room full of pain. The "normal" painful things were represented, like broken homes and financial needs. But there were also five teenagers present who had lost at least one parent to death, two only 48 hours before the rally. There were teenagers present who had been physically abused as well as some who had been sexually abused. At least one I knew in the group bounces from house to house, never quite knowing where "home" is any particular week. A number have lost friends in car accidents and/or in a tragic house fire that took several lives four years ago. Several of those present were struggling with addictions in their own lives or in the lives of their parents. There were at least two "cutters" in the group and at least three who were struggling with their sexual identity. WOW, what a lot of pain for one room. Whatever happened to teenagers just hanging out and being kids!

My experience speaking to that group reinforced in my mind that the current generation is a generation of pain. They are a generation of broken families and emotional problems. They are the first generation that will most likely be less well off than their parents. They are inheriting an economy that is in shambles, morality that has collapsed and a nation that is not as well liked around the world as it once was. With so much stacked against them, the last thing they need is a church that does not care about their pain or help them with their struggles. Yet, that is what most of them find.

Young people are leaving the church in large numbers. It is not that they don't believe in God, statistics actually say that today's teenagers are more likely to believe in God than their parents. It is just that they are not finding God in most churches. So they look for Him in other places. Yet the church has been called to hold the keys to the Kingdom of God. Too many churches have lost the keys they are supposed to be holding. Churches need to rediscover those keys before they lose a whole generation. One of the ways churches can rediscover the keys to the Kingdom and unlock spiritual truth for teenagers is to help them deal with the pain they have experienced. Fortunately, we have an Advocate who stays closer than a brother. Christ is the One who was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we can be healed. So we have a lot to offer to young people that can ease their pain, if we are willing to offer it. Encourage your church to be a voice of healing for a generation in pain.

39 comments:

  1. Wow, Terry, I really like this. I can relate to some of those problems in life, and I am glad to know I have great people like God, you, Kay and many more in my life that will be there to help me out when I need it. Thank you.

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  2. Thanks for sending this. Very eye-opening.

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  3. Your captive audience was in bondage to things some of them did not cause. What pain! They take all our modern conveniences for granted and focus on the “loss” the feel. That’s the natural man.

    Thank you for your rallys and for the ways your churches try to be relevant to the needs of teens.

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  4. Terry,
    Very sad and compelling. It makes me wonder (and I think I know the answer) how many churches (members and leaders alike) are unaware of the situations many of their teens face, and are equipped to minister to them.
    Unfortunately, most teens are programmed NOT to receive messages that come in old wrappers--
    If only we could find the language and messages that they could comprehend and receive.
    I pray for your ministry, may your tribe increase.

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  5. Pastor "Name Withheld"February 11, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Terry,
    Wow! Just last night, after driving the church bus full of screaming rowdy kids home, I was whining to myself and thinking: Is this really worth it? What a burden these kids are. Does it even matter that we put in so much time and effort into their lives and see so few results. Wah...wah...wah.

    Then I read this post. I had to ask God to forgive me for my poor attitude, and give me a greater passion and burden to help this group of kids see the hope and presence and truth of Christ.

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  6. I like this too.

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  7. I like this too.

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  8. I like this too.

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  9. Terry, This is good. I am going to be teaching at Elmgrove Church next wednesday and will use some of it to help them understand the pain teens are in and how the church can help.

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  10. Well worth reading! Have met many of those teenagers myself. They have a different world than what we grew up in. Truly Jesus is their only answer.

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  11. Your thoughts are right on the mark. I also believe the same thing is true of many of the folks from my generation as well as yours. These are the kind of hurting people the Lord continues sending my way. Ministering to them in His name takes His strength within us and the grace to persevere. It takes a lot of time and energy and is often a thankless task. But, it isn't over until it's over. Between now and them, I hope and pray that other laborers in His field will reap the harvest.
    Keep preaching and writing, brother.

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  12. This article appearred in Baptist Press on February 23, 2010.
    http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=32358

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  13. This blog post was also reposted on:
    http://www.faithtelegraph.com/

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  14. I like this!!

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  15. Frank Rothe, Connect With Kids, Inc - St. Johnsbury, VTFebruary 23, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    I like this.

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  16. Good morning Terry.
    Great article, so true... Keep up the great work
    I am snowed in today ... a foot of snow.

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  17. Jan Jonas Childers, Spartaburg, SCFebruary 24, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    Great article.

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  18. I like this.

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  19. I like this.

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  20. Joan Palmer O'Connor, Spartanburg, SCFebruary 24, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    I like this.

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  21. This article was also posted on:

    http://townhall.com/news/religion/2010/02/23/first-person_a_generation_of_pain

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  22. This article was also posted on:
    http://www.fbcvidalia.org/

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  23. This article was also posted on:
    http://thedailyreviewer.com/top/pain

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  24. Christopher Link, Marshfield, VTFebruary 24, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    I like this.

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  25. Jim Herod, Washington, VTFebruary 24, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Excellent article. I had read it before and am glad it is receiving wider circulation.

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  26. This article was also reposted at:
    http://www.newhopemeadowview.com/news

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  27. This article was reposted at:

    http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/rd_article_content/0,2815,A%253D170124%2526X%253D1%2526M%253D200812,00.html

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  28. This article was reposted at:
    http://www.cameronbaptist.com/

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  29. This article was also reposted on:
    http://interceder.net/news/BP
    Though I cannot imagine why.

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  30. This article was also reposted on:
    http://actsfourthirtyfour.blogspot.com/2008/07/inversnaid-gerard-manley-hopkins.html

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  31. This article was also reposted at:
    http://www.brownschapelbaptist.org/NewsFeeds/tabid/62/Default.aspx

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  32. This article was also reposted at:

    http://www.spencehackney.com/Modules/GP/tabid/3007/language/en-US/Default.aspx

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  33. It was also reposted on:

    http://www.hccfor.org/aggregator/sources/1

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  34. Connie Justus, missionary to JapanMarch 31, 2010 at 7:10 AM

    You are right Terry! And good post on your blogspot

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