Last week, the ABC aired an episode of Q+A entitled ‘Young and Free?’, focusing on concerns that young Australians have about life after COVID-19.
Guest panelists wrestled with questions directly from young people about education, employment, the environment, isolation, and mental health.
Strong concerns were expressed about what the coming weeks, months and years might hold for them. One young person, looking right at the camera, asked, “What are we supposed to do next, like literally, next…?”
It’s such a strange and worrying time for our young people.
I watched and wondered what the answers to such complex problems could be and where such solutions might come from? Panelists offered up various options and likely sources for solutions – governments, businesses, local communities. All reasonable suggestions given the concerns.
I thought to myself, “What hope do these young people have? Where are they going to get their help?”
Then another question popped into my head – one from the Bible…
“I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
The danger of a verse like this is that it can be read in a glib way, citing “God” as the one-size-fits-all answer to life’s many complex and serious questions. “Where will our jobs come from?” God. “Can we make our economy environmentally sustainable?” God. “What can I do about my crippling anxiety?” God.
I don’t want to treat young people’s concerns or take God’s name in vain in such a flippant way.
But, the beauty of a verse like this is the deep truth that lies within it. The kind of truth that doesn’t necessarily solve life’s complex and serious problems, but offers a way of moving and being in the world while we live through them.
Australian young people are not highly religious beings. Many who grow up in Christian contexts drift out of those in their teenage years and move on to attempts at stitching together a way of moving and being in the world they hope might get them through. These are strange and worrying times. They’d be wanting something pretty robust to meet the challenge, but I fear it’s an impossible task.
There isn’t a lot of research out there about what helps Australian young people discover that God, the maker of heaven and earth, might be where their help could come from. What we do know is that strong families, good friends and a connected church community are good influences in this space.*
So, as families let’s pray for our governments, businesses and local communities and encourage them as they seek solutions to the problems that trouble our young people.
Let’s play a role in helping to build a more hopeful world.
Let’s be there with our young people as they ask their questions and wrestle with their concerns. Let’s listen, encourage, understand and offer small daily supports.
In these ways, we can at least encourage them to lift their eyes to see where their help might come from.
About the author…
Steve has over 30 years experience in school, community and church-based youth work. He is currently working as the Training & Development Manager at SU QLD, overseeing teams that deliver training and produce resources for SU QLD staff and volunteers. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Social Work, Politics & Government, and Christian Studies.
*Hughes, P. & Reid, S. (2019). How Australian Young People Understand and Experience God and influences on their Thinking: A Review of Secondary Research and Literature Study. Converge Oceania.