In reality, we are really broken. I see it all the time in America. A machismo that says, "I'm okay, you're okay." Pop psychology that cannot deal with the reality of the wave of suffering in our lives.
God's View of Hardship
Our response to hardship is determined by our concept of time. One of the most helpful verses to me in the New Testament is in 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul said of suffering and inequity, “I see through a glass dimly, but then, face to face.” He was giving us perspective to help us through difficulty. The perspective of time and understanding the frailty of life on earth. Through minds that cannot comprehend the purposes of God. I love the words ‘but then’. It leads us to the future hope. Time is hopeful. And when time is filled with hope and not despair, time is even more powerful.
The stories of teens whose lives were torn apart by hardship, is only completed with hope. We must all be ‘hope dealers’ to a generation who is buried by despair. Hope is something that I have used countless times in my ministry to young people. Teenagers are growing up in a world that is defined by suicide, self-harm, broken families, the sexual revolution, a social media that is out of control, our post-Christian society, and the Coexist movement. As adults and Youth Leaders, we must bring the balance and the maturity to a teens life while they are in the midst of a broken world falling apart around them.
When I speak with a suicidal teen, I draw them to hope by extending their life and telling them I’ll talk with them tomorrow. When I speak with a young girl who is cutting and doing self-harm, I draw her to hope by saying she is not the only one going through this. When I speak with a teenage boy who is living with a grandparent because his home is torn apart by divorce, I model to him my family or another Youth Leaders home so that he can see there is hope for him to stop the dysfunction.
EQ (Emotional Quotient)
Over and over, hope becomes the anchor in a sea of despair. It becomes the EQ (the Emotional Quotient) that holds someone together and stabilizes every bit of information that is coming into our lives. Our concept of time is really hope. And hope is patience. Patience that will place us in a powerful position of perspective. Where there is hope there is always a way.
Our emotional strength is a life-saver. It manages crisis and files data with balance and not emotional highs and lows. Here are two ways to develop EQ if you are going through a difficult time right now.
1. Slow Crisis Down
Be careful of reacting too quickly to hardship. Take a 'Spiritual Count-to-Ten'. Then measure the data and situation with facts and not fear or worry or ignorance. Slowing down crisis can actually reduce the stress.
2. Debrief After Crisis
Often, after a crisis, we realize that it wasn't as bad as we thought. Right? Think about the last time you freaked out about something. It probably wasn't worth all of the emotion and reaction. Am I right? Taking time to evaluate and assess a hardship after it passes can help us to deal with the next one when it comes more effectively.
We have become buried under this societal tsunami. And too often we cannot even think because of the pressure. But, hope has become the message of salvation to a society that is inundated by the pressure of these things. Be a 'Hope Dealer' in our culture today for people who think they have no hope. Fill time with hope and not with despair or worry. And everyone around you will buy what you are selling.