Keeping hope alive while the world falls apart

Sunday Scripture – October 14, 2019

Jeremiah 1:1, 4-7

Reflection

Here are two theological truths we can always count on: 1) bad things will happen, and 2) there is hope in God.

Adults know that the drama of adolescence is fleeting, but the suffering is very real to teens in the midst of it. You may know that the pain of a low grade, not having the latest fashion accessory, or losing a boyfriend/girlfriend will soon be gone, but to the teens suffering these crises, such things may feel like utter disasters. Young people are probably more adept at recognizing the suffering of others than past generations of teens were, but it is still difficult for them. They are developing the ability to sympathize.

Suffering on a grand scale is difficult for anybody to comprehend. Experiences such as short-term mission trips and local outreach can help your students develop the ability to sympathize with the suffering of others, and to recognize hope in the midst of suffering, whether it is on a personal or national scale.

Jeremiah was probably in his late teens or early twenties when he heard God’s call.

Jeremiah seemed to be failing. The nation was not responding to God’s message. They were ignoring God and abusing Jeremiah for telling them they were wrong to be worshiping false gods. Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet” because of how often he mourns for his nation. He weeps over what is happening and what will happen because Judah has turned away from God.

Jeremiah uses the Old Testament idea of “all bad things come from God as punishment for sin.” We, however, read this story after knowing God through Jesus. With his words and actions, Jesus turned this Old Testament idea upside down, offering instead the idea that human sin whether our own or that of others causes us harm. In other words, God doesn’t punish us for our sins, but by sinning we punish ourselves.

Jeremiah was a prophet for forty years and never seemed to make any positive changes in his nation. But Jeremiah didn’t give up. God had a plan for Jeremiah’s life, God has a plan for each of our lives. We choose whether or not to figure out and follow that plan. It’s not some kind of inescapable fate, but it is the best way to live our lives. God helps us to figure out and follow the plan, but we have to be, like Jeremiah, listening and ready to hear God.

 

Questions

  • Can young people do significant things?
  • Can young people do significant things for God?
  • When God calls people to speak for him, does God’s top priority seem to be people who can speak well in public?
    • If not, in what might God be more interested?
  • What’s the most recent thing where you tried, failed, and gave up?
    • What are some things that cause you to give up?
  • What’s the most recent thing where you tried, failed, but kept trying anyway?
    • What are some things that help you keep going after a failure?
  • What do you think kept Jeremiah going?

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