According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 34. And since 2000, the suicide rate has nearly tripled for young teen girls.
America’s youth are dealing with depression. They’re dealing with anxiety. And one thing that seems to permeate their lives is a sense of hopelessness.
With this explosion of cutting-edge tech and a relatively good economy, it seems as though we’d be happy, hopeful people. But instead we have a lot of unhappy, hopeless people. As writer Sheryl Nance-Nash pointed out, “Decades ago, young people had few real worries. The biggest issues were getting a driver’s license, passing the next exam, going to a party on the weekend, or finding someone to take them to the mall. The age of innocence is long gone.”
Experts have actually described this young generation of today as the hopeless generation. We have gone from what is known as the greatest generation, which is the World War II generation, to the hopeless generation.
Someone has said that man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, but not even minutes without hope. We all need hope in our lives.
On July 24, 2008, Cathe and I heard the news that no parents want to hear. Our son Christopher had left this world and had gone on to the next one in heaven. He was killed in an automobile accident. To say an event like that is devastating is an understatement. It was life altering.
The hope that has sustained me all these years, and continues to sustain me as other hardships come my way, is the hope that I found from my relationship with God.
Grieving and living in grief is a little bit like being out in the surf and wiping out on a wave. I can think of times when I’ve been out there and a big set was coming in. Each wave got bigger than the one before it.
My inclination was to turn around and paddle toward shore as fast as possible. But that’s a bad decision, because then I would get hit in the impact zone. What I needed to do was paddle out toward the waves and try to go under them before they broke.
But I can think of times when I’ve gone over the falls, as they say. It’s like being in a washing machine of white water. You can actually lose direction, and more than one person has gone down when they should have gone up.
In this situation, if you have a boogie board or some kind of a flotation device with you, it’s probably attached to your leg. So here’s what you do: Grab your leash and pull on it. Go in the direction of the leash. It will always take you to the surface.
When we’re dealing with grief and don’t know which way is up, when we’re losing perspective, the Bible is the leash we need. We grab the Word of God and pull on it, and it takes us to Jesus. We get our heads above water and take a big gulp of air before the next set comes in. The Word of God is what helps us in those times of need.
Life is filled with pain and sorrow, which includes the death of loved ones. You don’t realize this so much when you’re young. But as you get older, you start seeing loved ones pass. It usually starts with your grandparents and then your parents. Then it might be a loved one unexpectedly dying, such as a spouse or a child, which affects you in a dramatic way.
Despite the hardships of life, we must remember that God loves us. Shortly after our son went to be with the Lord, Pastor Chuck Smith came to visit me. We sat on the front steps of my home, and Chuck looked at me and said, “Greg, never trade what you know for what you don’t know.”
Never trade what you know for what you don’t know, because when crisis hits, your mind is filled with whys: “Why is this happening to me? Why? Why? Why? It’s not fair. Other people don’t suffer like this. Why?”
That is what I don’t know. But what do I know? I know that God loves me. I know that God is in control of my life. I know that when believers die, they go to heaven. Therefore, I know that the moment my son left this world, he entered the next one, and he’s there in the presence of God. I know that I will see him again.
You can spend all of your time asking the why questions, the what-you-don’t-know stuff. But go to what you do know. Replace what you don’t know with thoughts about what you do know: God loves you.
I have hope for the hopeless generation. I have hope for the millennials. I have hope for the baby boomers. I have hope for the greatest generation. It’s the hope of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ
Maybe you’ve been so despondent in life that you have contemplated suicide. I can tell you that hope has a name, and it’s Jesus. He standing at the door of your life right now, and he is knocking. He is saying that if you’ll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in.
Do you need Jesus today? He has everything you’re looking for. This culture doesn’t have it. This world doesn’t have it. But Jesus has it. He has it for you. And what you need to do is call out to him.
You do not have to be hopeless, no matter what you’re facing at this particular moment. When the worst-case scenario takes place, when you hear the worst news imaginable and wonder if you can survive it, the answer is yes. Yes, you can.