2020: Our Children Need Hope
School Leader Bible Study
2020: Our Children Need Hope
Week of January 19, 2020 by Tom Deighan
Moment of truth for anyone 50 or over: do you remember this week 20 years ago? It was January, 2000 and many of us were wondering what we would do with the extra gas . . . and batteries . . . and candles? Y2K had just passed without even a whimper, and many of us felt duped. I won’t personally admit to going off the deep end, but I recently found a 20 year-old bar of soap, and yes, it worked just fine.
Last week, I suggested that our children suffer from extremes in vision: nearsighted pressure for selfie-perfection and farsighted obsessions with the end of the world. They cannot always see through such extremes with clarity. Since writing that article, I have personally heard young people say that the world will end before they can start a life. How tragic that so many young people feel that way!
Because this is so real to so many young people, we old folks cannot dismiss their concerns or patronize them. We can, however, offer them the perspective of 20-year old soap. For example, I remember being told as an elementary student in the 70’s about the coming ice age. In the 80’s, nuclear war would surely end us. And in the 90’s, it was the ozone hole, Y2K and overpopulation. In the 2000’s, we would all die by terrorists, and the ice caps would melt by 2014. In 2012, the Aztec Calendar portended our doom, but now it’s climate change and zombies. Our foresight is never clear, but hindsight is 20/20, and so far, all predictions of worldwide destruction have been wrong.
Of course, the 1970’s ice age quickly melted. The Cold War fizzled. Since the 1990’s fertility rates are plummeting worldwide, the ozone hole has shrunk, and the grid did not collapse on January 1, 2000. We survived the Aztec Calendar, and the ice caps did not melt in 2014 as predicted in 2006. On the other hand, terrorism is still real and zombies are still going strong, so are not safe yet. I say these things not to minimize them but for perspective. Maybe our young people need to know that our destruction has been predicted many, many times. So far, it has been greatly exaggerated.
As Christians who also happen to be educators, it grieves our hearts to see our children without hope. A child is the epitome of hope in this world. Everything is fresh and possible in a child’s eyes, or at least should be. As educators we have a responsibility to help them think through questions logically and critically, so they do not live with unnecessary anxiety. We sometimes forget, however, how terrifying this world can be when someone does not know the hope of Christ. Ephesians 2:12 reminds us what it was like before knowing Christ, when we “lived in this world without God and without hope.” (NLT) Sometimes, no amount of critical thinking can provide hope, for hope cannot always simply be found through analysis. A world without God is a world without meaning or purpose. It is devoid of hope.
Thank God for you! Although we are limited in which words we use in the schoolhouse, you are not limited in the light you can provide in the darkness. Your hope is infectious. According to Jesus, ‘“You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine!”’ (Matthew 5:15-16) The darkness does not always understand the light, (John 1) but the light is always noticed by those in the darkness. Your mere presence in the classroom infects children with hope; it’s inescapable and undeniable, even without words. And make no mistake, your students know whom you serve. Let your presence and life be a seed of hope, a stepping-stone toward true hope. You are a thread in a great tapestry God is weaving on the hearts of your children, fellow teachers, and community. Don’t doubt yourself or God, for “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
As adults, we are accustomed to myriad messengers using scary issues for political agendas, but we cannot fathom the onslaught of doom and gloom being force-fed to our children at the youngest of ages. Even in their twenties, they cannot always tell the difference between dire circumstances and plain-old propaganda. Such a struggle to rationalize our latest versions of dystopia can bring them despair. Fortunately, the ice caps have been given another 10 years, so maybe we start there. As Christians called to teach, you also have a tremendous presence when yours is a face of hope and love – especially in an educational system so often devoid of hope.
Leaders from across the political spectrum stoke apocalyptic fears to further their agendas, and as we get older, we learn to deal with it. Our children and teens, however, cannot always process it without perspective from the adults in their lives. Therefore, may our children have perspective from us as educators, parents, and neighbors. Pray for your schools, colleagues, and students. May God provide them with 20/20 hindsight so they can have hope for the future and purpose beyond 2020. And may God shine his light of hope and grace through us as broken vessels at His disposal. And may we all continue to pray for the safety of our schools each Second Sunday of the Month.
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