In our western world full of political divisions, social unrest, injustice and personal struggle, I believe the next generation remains our greatest hope. A generation of empowered and empathetic young people are the solution. From cultural differences to civil discourse this generation has an enormous untapped potential.
However, experts tell us that Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) are the most worn-out generations ever. In fact, those born between 1997 to 2012 are not just burdened, but Gen Z attributes “hopelessness” as the number one reason for being lonely. Experts describe Gen Z as “one of the loneliest generations ever.” Both generations are also the most depressed, with the highest suicide rate of any generation.
It begs the question, “How did we get here?” Could it be the insurmountable usage of technology? Could it be the dark cave of social media? Or maybe a longing for significance? An unfulfilled hope for life to matter? An unfulfilled hope to be noticed, loved and understood?
According to these figures, our future doesn’t look promising. We have clearly lost sight of the true gospel centered in hope. But we have the power to change that. To not become another statistic, but to unleash a new age.
What Do We Need to Know about Hope?
Perhaps the most-often quoted and most misunderstood passage about looking to the future with hope is: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Christians often interpret this as a blanket promise that “good things are right around the corner.” If we just keep a positive mental outlook, we can know that God has blessings in store for our future. However, this is not the hope of the gospel. It is not finger-crossing hope. It is not what the passage conveys.
Hope is the means by which we align not simply our plans but also ourselves with God. It is how we move toward the future that he is preparing for us in order to join him there.
Hope is not a concept we grasp for; it’s a person we connect with.
We have to fight to not let our hopelessness push us away from God or from a future he currently stands in. Though we are tempted, it is precisely because we feel the problem of hopelessness so severely today that we should be led to trust a God who could do something about it. Each one of us is going to deal with significant issues in our lives. When issues arise, we need to ask ourselves, “Who will bear it with us? Who will see us through it?” The bottom line is that we have no other choice than to know God through it.
Hope gives tears and pain their place (Matthew 11:28-30). And then leads us to the places where God feels close (Psalm 34:18). Hope is confident (Hebrews 11:1). Hope is fully assured (Ephesians 3:12, Romans 5:5). Hope is certain (Hebrews 6:11). Hope is a reality. A reality buoyed by the words, “It is finished.” A promise of a hopeful, eternal future with Christ. A future linked to Psalm 145:4, which declares, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and declare your mighty acts.”
Right facts about God and his works are just trivia if they are not joined with hearts that are on fire for the God of those facts, hearts that will sell everything to follow Jesus into the hardest places, into a good and holy future, no matter what the cost (Luke 5:27-28, 9:23).
How Does Hope Build a Beautiful World?
The life you have been given is an assignment from the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:17). You don’t need to be someone else and you don’t need to be somewhere else. You need to be who you are and where God wants you to be. Because your assigned life, your future, is not just about you, it’s also about hundreds of others around you and hundreds of thousands of others who will come after you.
You need to understand that all of history will be different because you lived. You matter that much. You are valuable. You will change the world, more than you know. Because you are the hope of this generation. You are hope dealers and change makers and believers at war for a new age. Don’t get discouraged. Your turn is coming, so prepare properly. Be desperate for God. The kind of desperation that jumps through roof tops and gets tumbled by a crowd (Mark 2:4). No more seeking for answers outside of the personal ministry of Jesus. Read deeply his promises and take God at his word. Use your voice and begin investing in the future. I believe you are ready to be called to something transformational. To teach radically. To witness radically. To evangelize radically. To hope radically. To have the wisdom to seek wise counsel from elders otherwise forgotten. To go out and talk to those not usually seen. Reach out and break the social media algorithms for real online connection. We die to self so that others might live, that is the power of hope that transcends generation to generation.
You can’t be indifferent about your personal investment in the lives of people if you care at all about the proclamation of the gospel. The best ministry you will ever do is to listen to someone’s pain.
If you are a leader in this season I urge you to recognize the people God has given you in your neighborhoods or churches and pour hope into them fiercely. Love hard. Pray for their hurts and make time for their needs, one life at a time. Then sweetly release the rest as you trust a limitless God to care for them.
You have a treasure in Jesus that outweighs everything in this world. As believers, we are called to give an answer for the hope that is within us to any who would ask (1 Peter 3:15). Don’t let the culture set low expectations for what you may accomplish for Christ. Instead, dream of being a generation that the world cannot explain. Dream of being a generation that will do greater things in Jesus’ name and then press it to the limit with hope in hand.
I believe in you. I’m for you. I’m on your side.