I became a Christian when I was a teenager (and statistically it remains true that the majority of people become Christians before the age of 21, something to bear in mind when we plan our outreaches, perhaps.) Teenagers find it hard to take the ‘long view’ on anything. Their moods and emotions are extreme: elation one minute, despair the next. I’ve seen a teenager devastated over a broken nail; I’ve seen a teenager distraught over a failed exam. In all these cases, there is raw emotion but no sense of counter-balance. Perhaps this is, sadly, one reason that teenage suicide rates are quite high.

Teenagers live in the moment, in the now. What is happening now is all that there is. There is no sense of perspective, no sense of a ‘bigger picture’ or a ‘long-term view.’

Many of us fail to grow out of this teenage phase, and constantly live life without a bigger picture. Our lives, our woes, our troubles, our joys are all that concern us. We are self-centred and selfish and myopic (and I speak as one who is literally about as short-sighted as they come!)

Over the years I have learnt that it won’t always be like this. It won’t always be all good or all bad in the way that it seems to be now. The heartache, the tears, the stinging failure, the ecstatic joys of this world… they are transient, impermanent. I first realised this through a song talking about the different ‘seasons of the soul’ (Michael & Stormie Omartian), which has been a great reassurance to me.
‘Seasons of the Soul’, Michael & Stormie Omartian

The one thing that does remain is God. He is the One who never changes (Mal 3:6 TNIV). He is the One who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb 13:8 TNIV). He is the One who delivers us (Exodus 14:13 TNIV, Ps 31 TNIV, Matt 6:13 TNIV). He is the One who turns situations around, who rescues us, who provides a way out where there is no way out. Because of this, we can view life with a positive outlook, secure in our future with God. It won’t always be like this: sin-stained, full of broken dreams and minor keys. There is a light that is coming for the heart that holds on, a day ahead with no more tears or pain or sorrow or death. The ‘all good’ lies ahead, not in this world of wars and sin. Creation here is groaning for release from bondage (Rom 8:22 TNIV), but we are encouraged to take the long view: ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.’ (Rom 8:18 TNIV) What lies ahead is far greater. It won’t always be like this.

“There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

Troubled soul, don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting.” (‘There Will Be A Day’, Jeremy Camp)

‘There Will Be A Day’, Jeremy Camp

“Yes, I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You.” (‘You Never Let Go’, Matt & Beth Redman)

‘You Never Let Go’, Matt & Beth Redman