Why do I hurt?


Why do I hurt?

It’s common for youth pastors to have to walk alongside students whose parents have decided to divorce. The pain that so many students feel in the midst of this earth-shattering news is real. Some students want to fight and step into the marriage to repair it. Others shut down and deny the news. And some attempt to shoulder the blame. Regardless of the reaction students have, the pain caused by this news has the power to change the trajectory of their lives. According to Barna research, “In 2014, we found that while 82 percent of Millennials want to get married someday, they want to wait until they feel more fully developed as a person (70%), are financially established (69%), and have lived together (60%). An understandable attitude when you consider that nearly 40 percent of them did not grow up in two-parent homes. Millennials and Gen-Xers were children when divorce rates hit an all-time high, and their cautious approach toward marriage is the likely result.

When divorce becomes a reality for students, they may ask these questions:

  • Why is God allowing this to happen?
  • Was it my fault?
  • Who is to blame?
  • What will my future look like?
  • Can I just run away?
  • Can I fix this?
  • How can I protect my siblings?

Students need to know that their suffering will be overcome. Hurt will not Win. Indeed, it has already lost.

As a youth leader, where do you begin your pursuit of these students? The loneliness caused by this feeling of abandonment is enough to cause them a pain they can’t put into words. What students do with that pain will reveal the source of their hope.

When students suffer, statistics tell us that they are more easily lured into the world’s solutions to the pain. “One in every ten Americans over age twelve is addicted to illicit drugs and/or alcohol. Another one-in-ten misuses prescription drugs. Others overeat or look at pornography or devote too much time to technology and entertainment as a way of numbing their pain. These solutions not only don’t work, they also leave a trail of brokenness we can all relate to. Jesus offers an answer to our pain that is far more complete.

Christian Worldview Key

When students are told their suffering will be overcome and hurt will not win, they can begin to explore how Jesus heals their hurts and gives them victory. Here are five things students can do right now to find healing:

  • Dwell on God’s presence. Students need to be reminded that they are never alone in their suffering. Our ever-present God is right beside them to guide them and be their strength in times of trouble.
  • Serve. Help students get outside their current suffering to see more than their own struggle. Encouraging students to be a blessing to another in need allows them to see a bigger truth, that they aren’t alone in this world.
  • Reject fate. As Christians, our suffering draws us closer to our Savior. Even when students can’t see a positive ending within their suffering, help them trust that God has a plan, and they are free to surrender their suffering and walk in faithfulness.
  • Accept the love of others. Show your students how to suffer in the context of community. Students need to feel included in the midst of suffering seasons. Create space for intentional community to support and encourage students who suffer.
  • Look forward to a better day. Students can live differently from the culture. Remind students that the sufferings of this life will only last a season, because of Christ and the hope of glory.

Message for Students

Idea viruses seek to convince us that suffering is pointless and devoid of meaning. But knowing that God is with us in our suffering changes the whole story arc. Jesus is the answer to the dilemma of evil and suffering in this world. He is our hope in suffering, and because of him, our pain has meaning.

Jeff Myers, The Secret Battle of Ideas about God (Colorado Springs, Colorado, David C. Cook, 2017).

Portions of this section come from chapters 5 and 6.

Notes

  1. The Trends Redefining Romance Today,” barna.com.
  2. Kima Joy Taylor, quoted in “New Data Shows Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R,” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, September 28, 2010.

  3. Legally Dead: Exploring the Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse,” Rehabs.com.

  4. Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good (The Crown Publishing Group, 2009), 449.