Dear Teenager: Life is Hard, and God is with You

Dear Teenager,

I hope this isn’t too blunt or really, perhaps, too obvious: life hurts.

But surely you know this by now? Have you been excluded from a dinner with friends, only to see it posted later on Instagram? Have you not made a team for which you worked hard to make? Have you had a parent disappoint you? Has an illness affected you or your family? Have you struggled under the pressure to perform at school and to uphold your reputation?

When I think of what I want you to know, I want you to know that Jesus is in it all. He is with you in all of it. There isn’t a place that the Lord your God cannot reach, does not know, and does not desire to redeem.

When it hurts, it’s hard to imagine a God who is really in the hard places of life. But this isn’t about the “why.” This is about the “who.” Whether or not we understand why life is hard, understanding the Who can bring more comfort than any kind platitude from a friend.

The God who created the universe, strung the stars across the sky, told the oceans to stop at the shore, formed your parts in the womb, who went so far to save His people that He gave His only Son for you, who sent His Holy Spirit to be within you, that God—He is in it all.

Jesus teaches his followers in Matthew 6:26 saying, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” If He feeds the birds, we can trust him to feed His people.

Throughout scripture we read story after story of God’s faithfulness and presence with His people. He clothes Adam and Eve after they disobey Him in the Garden of Eden; He parts the Red Sea for Moses; He chooses a simple shepherd named David to save his people from the Philistines and then be King; He sends Jesus to pay the price for our sins; and Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within those who believe in Him.

In the Psalms, David writes, “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” When we look throughout scripture, God’s steadfast love, his faithfulness is truly before our very eyes. This does not mean, however, that those people were without pain or hurt. They, like us, lived in a broken world. The many examples of God’s faithfulness remind us that God was present, caring for his flock while orchestrating sin, misdeeds, and missteps into a redemptive story.

Where has God been faithful to you in the past? Where has he cared for you? Put that in front of your eyes, and remember it. See where God walked with you in the good and the bad. When we remember, we gain strength, through God’s faithful work that has already begun in our lives, to move through the hard parts of life with Him. As Paul writes in Philippians, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Dawson Cooper lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Wil, and three boys (ages 7,10, and 15). She graduated from Wake Forest University. While at Wake Forest, she began freelance writing for a local magazine. She has been writing for Rooted Ministry since 2017. She also works as a lead floral designer with Marigold Designs. Dawson and her family attend Covenant Presbyterian Church where she is involved with leading a youth small group. When she isn’t at or driving to her boys’ various games, school events, or activities, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and enjoying a good meal with friends. 

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