The other night, with a hint of fear in your eyes, one of you asked me if ISIS would come here. I wanted to tell you, “No, of course not.” Kind of like when you used to come and ask me if monsters were real and I could console you and tell you that there were no monsters in the corner, puppets in the closet (one of you were deathly afraid of puppets) or bad guys coming to get you. I could chase all of those things away with my words, but this – this I cannot. The truth is, I don’t know anything except that violence is becoming commonplace. All kinds.
I can paste a calm look on my face and tell you that you will not ever experience a mass shooting (one happened in our own mall a few years ago), you or your friends coping with a school shooting (this also happened in a local school a couple of years ago) or violence that should never happen from one human being to another, but I just can’t. It wouldn’t be true. I can’t promise you that.
When I was growing up, if you would have told me that the world would look like this for you, I would have laughed and thought it must be a different place we were talking about. My mother’s heart wants to shield you from the violence, close your eyes and turn your face away. I want to keep you near home so that I am never the one burying one of you or all of you after our world has been blown apart needlessly by a human who has violence as their aim. Many mothers have. I want to fill your mind with happy memories and carefree days. When you were small, it was good and right to keep some things too big from you, but you are older now. My job is to equip you for life, not pretend that everything will be perfect forever. I cannot look you in the eye and tell you that your world will never be blown apart, that what is dear to you will not be torn from you or that your life will be filled with peace. There are thousands upon thousands across the world who are picking up pieces of broken lives. Some have very few pieces left.
Kids, the world we live in is very very broken. Things that are wrong look right and things that are right look wrong. There are a couple of things that I want more than anything else for you. I cannot promise that your world will be secure. It will not be. You may never be touched by violence personally, but I can guarantee your community will. Someone in your world will. This is becoming more and more clear and this is what I do know. Even if the unthinkable happens and we do face what countless others have faced and are facing across our globe, God will be enough. This doesn’t mean that there will never be pain or suffering, but He is strong enough to be your strength. He’s so good at making beautiful things out of bad situations that even if you find yourself in the midst of ashes, you will find beauty. Cling to Him – hope in Him. He will be near – it’s Who He is. He will always be enough for you.
But kids, here is the thing, as much as I want to shield you, I really don’t want you to live in your own little perfect life bubble. I don’t want you to act and live as if there isn’t a care in the world – there are many. I want you to weep with those who weep. I don’t want you to get so used to violence, political statements, facebook picture overlays and t-shirts that you no longer see the suffering of the human heart. I want you to be happy, but so much more than that, I want you to carry a burden for the hurting and broken. When you see a picture of a boy washed up on a shore, you see people weeping in the streets, you see blown up cities, you see frightened young faces running out of school buildings, I want your heart to physically ache. I want to see you weep for the broken. I want it to be gut-wrenching. This is how you know you have God’s heart. He weeps at the things happening in our world. You know the song, “Jesus Loves Me?” That little washed up boy could have sung that song and it would have been true. I know that God wept at the sight.
You see, as weird as this sounds, it’s easy to get used to it, but I want you to be compelled. When something grips your heart, it compels you to act. You can no longer sit by idly and watch as people around you are ravaged by brokenness and pain without batting an eye. I want you to see an overfilled raft, a fellow believer crucified or a terrorist teen your age carrying a gun and be compelled to pray. I want it to touch your heart. You see, your world is saturated with news of violence. School shootings are commonplace. Mass shootings are commonplace. Bombings are commonplace. Terrorist acts are commonplace. I don’t ever want the news to be met with no emotion left. I want you to keep your heart. Many are losing theirs. It’s hard to stay tender in world inundated with violence. Don’t lose heart – when you begin to feel numb ask God to help you see as He sees. This is what He wants. It’s easy to hide in our own world, but that is not what we’re to do. Easier is not better.
Please, please don’t hate. Hate the violence – yes, with everything in you. But love people. The truth is, our world is ravaged by violence, sin and brokenness because people are lost. When you encounter God, you can’t help but love. Apart from Him, we are a mess. All of us. It’s easy to take out our fear and pain on others, but that is not our way. God has commanded us to love – even those who persecute us. We do not condone or agree with what they are doing, but we can love them. We can because God does and He can do this in us. People get so fearful and begin to point fingers when our world gets shaky. Not so for you kids, you stay strong. Press into God – get His mind. Act with His heart. Don’t give into fear, but cling tight to God and what He says. Don’t attack people – not in words or on social media. We are not fighting people, we are fighting the enemy who is behind all of this. Battle on your knees more than with words. Words may be needed sometimes, but only after you’ve been on your knees. When you speak God’s truth with God’s heart you will bring healing and hope to the broken in your world and beyond.
Kids, this is what I want for you. I want you to be active bringing God’s heart to those around you. You can breathe life where there is death whether in prison or as the CEO of a company, whether on the mission field or in a neighborhood with white picket fences, whether working with babies or the elderly or whether in the midst of a vacation or a tragedy. The broken are everywhere. You have God’s life in you. The enemy is after your heart – protect it, guard it, submit it to God and when you notice it is growing cold – go to the One Who is the life giver and ask for Him to ignite His passion for those around you. This is a prayer He will answer without a doubt. He needs hearts that beat with His to bring the healing and freedom He already paid for.
I love each one of you and pray that God would break your heart with what breaks His, give you joy larger than any devastation that comes your way, peace stronger than any fear you face and a love greater than you are capable of without Him. His arms are strong and they will carry you through this life. I entrust you to Him.
I love you,