Guiding Teens Through Difficulty and Grief – Lessons from Job and His Friends (Rooted 2017 Workshop Preview)

One of the hardest things to deal with as a human being is unexplainable difficulty. It is not abnormal throughout the teenage years to lack confidence or hope as you navigate forward in a world that is becoming bigger by the moment. When there is pain in the background that won’t stop, coping with life can become immeasurably more difficult. Such ongoing pain often becomes unbearable in seasons of grief due to loss, but it also happens in a myriad of other ways especially for a teenager: being ostracized, tension with parents, struggles in school, parent’s divorce, etc. When pain continues that an adolescent can’t stop, it is easy for them to conclude they are doing something wrong. That often leads to increased self-reliance (they try harder) or increased self-contempt (they punish themselves). Both solutions are ones that teenagers choose with regularity and both solutions will exacerbate the problem, not make it better.

Job is a perfect example of someone who struggled with unexplainable difficulty. He suffered greatly even though he was righteous. After his friends see the pain on his face, they sit with him for seven days. Job gets the sense they care about him, so he takes a risk and shares with them all the disorientation he feels toward God. He is confused about God because of what happened to him. What he suffered seemed to contradict how God had treated him in the past. Once Job finally speaks, his friends go from good friends to bad friends and for the next 28 chapters, they try to convince Job he has a horizontal problem he can fix (he did something wrong, he could have prevented what happened or could do something to make it better). In his integrity, Job says he actually has a vertical problem and needs to be reunited with God’s gracious sovereignty; until that happens, he will have no rest. Eventually, God does show up and reminds Job who he is, and Job finds the rest he was seeking. In an ironic twist of fate, God affirms Job for speaking rightly about him and condemns his friends.

In the Gospel according to Job, we see the need for friends who will stand in the gap for those who suffer and struggle. Without those who can help us voice our confusion and doubt and wait with us for God, our only options are blaming ourselves or working harder. This is a message teenagers naturally believe but is also regularly reinforced by caregivers. We often don’t know how to hold the powerlessness others feel in the face of unexplainable difficulty, and offer them the Gospel. The aim of this workshop is to ground you in how to shepherd teens through difficulty so that they experience a richer taste of the Lord and the Gospel. This workshop will lead you to discover – as a youth leader or a parent – how to become the friend Job never had. Guiding Teens Through Difficulty and Grief – Lessons from Job and his Friends

Adolescence is fraught with difficulty and trial and too often as youth leaders or parents we are like Job’s friends – we focus on horizontal issues and give advice on how to help teens make their life better. Like Job, they feel missed and remain lost not knowing how to reconnect with God through the chaos and pain.

This workshop will be presented at Rooted 2017 in Dallas, Texas on October 26-28. To register for the conference, click here.