I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for a long while (over a year, in fact), hesitant to speak up on a topic that my age might disqualify me from addressing. It may be that in many years I’ll look back on this post with a different mindset, though I doubt it. At nineteen, I am still beginning life in many ways, entering into seasons that so many have known before me. I can only observe that which I have not lived. And observation is largely shaped, both positively and negatively, by perspective.
I write from the mindset that the wisdom of my elders is to be heard and respected. That one can learn a great deal about life simply by speaking to those around them who have lived it longest. And yet, from the knowledge that it is impossible my elders are always without fault – after all, they are still human. So with a great deal of respect, I do believe I ought to humbly speak up.
I am increasingly aware of your words in regard to my current generation. It would seem you have no hope for us; that we are on course to destroy the country, if not the world. I’ve heard it said by one that they were glad they’d have passed on by the time we stepped into leadership. I will not sit under a rock and claim perfection. There are many days my hope is diminished by the ignorance and depravity around me. We are a people run by selfishness and ruled by our fallen nature. But when, throughout history, has that not been true? When have we experienced a century without extreme tragedy, undeniable ignorance, economic distress, displays of depravity, and disgraceful adolescents?
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us.” -Ecclesiastes 1:9-10
Moral depravity and lack of intelligence is not a new thing, it is only displayed in new ways as things like science and technology advance. News is spread more easily, reports hone in on the tragic or deplorable, and deeds once done secretly are readily publicized. As many people see the depravity of others they become more comfortable with their own depravity and more willing to express it.
Is the culture worse than it was fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago? Perhaps. But depravity and economic distress has long been a part of this world. Things that happen now are things that happened then, whether in secret or in public. If you did not know of them growing up that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist within your own home, town, state, or country. We are not the first generation to know corrupt and abusive leaders, poverty, lack of respect, immaturity, sexual perversion, hostility toward Christianity, etc. We aren’t even the first to know such a public display of these things.
And while we as a generation have numerous faults, we are not without hope. While we are abounding in selfish, immature, ignorant, and perverse individuals, we are not without role models. There are still those of us who defy the norms, take a stand for truth, have a heart for study and understanding, and have respect for our fellow human beings. There are still those who seek to make a difference and to live honorably. But most importantly, our every breath is still governed by a mighty and sovereign God whose plan for His people extends far beyond the American dream.
There are a great many things that make me grateful for the time I was born into. I’m grateful to be living in a time when things like depression, mental illness, and chronic illness are being brought into the light and better understood. I’m grateful to live in a time where it is no longer common for nearly everyone in a town to be found in church on Sunday morning simply because it is a societal norm (a topic for another post). I’m grateful to have the technology to make connections with people all over the world and minister to those I have never even met in person. I’m grateful that the constant brokenness of the world around me continually points me back to Christ and ultimately strengthens my faith.
But above all I am grateful that no matter how bad things get and no matter how discouraged we become, there is still hope. Because every political leader in this world could turn their back on God and it would not thwart His plans. Every imaginable darkness can take place and it would not limit God’s power. God is at work in this generation, just as He has been in every generation. And because of that, we have hope¹.
Not a hope that we will live comfortable lives pursuing happiness. Not a hope that our nation will be restored and our rights will never be ignored. But a hope founded in the promises of God to work good in our lives as we devote them to Him and to provide grace, salvation, redemption, and sanctification to all those who turn to Him. A hope founded in the knowledge that we serve the God who created the universe. We have hope because this world is temporary and Heaven is eternal. Because we know that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Isaiah 45:23).
So when you speak to us and of us, please be wary of causing us to struggle in our hope. Be honest with us about the struggles we are likely to face in this world, but leave us with truth to encourage our hope and strengthen us for the road ahead. The way that you speak of us and the world that God has placed us in will either be a hindrance or a help to us in our pursuits of Christ. I implore you to leave with us a legacy of hope rather than despair.