ABC News reports that for many in the graduating class of 2024, the nationwide unrest on college campuses over the Israel-Hamas war has bookmarked an emotional end to their college experiences which began amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, graduating University of Southern California (“USC”) college student Grant Oh already missed his prom and high school graduation as COVID-19 surged in 2020.  He started college with online classes.  Now the 20-year-old will add another missed milestone to his life, as USC has canceled its main commencement ceremony that was expected to be attended by 65,000 persons.

College campuses have always been a hotbed for protests beginning with the civil rights era and the Vietnam War, but today’s students also experience stresses from living through isolation and fear from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the (inordinate) daily influence of social media amplifying every perceived wrong in the world.

And, it’s not just about missed milestones.  Studies show that Generation Z suffers from considerably higher rates of anxiety and depression than Millennials, according to Jean Twenge, a psychologist and professor at San Diego State University.

The ABC News article may be read in full HERE.

The website Mental Floss provides the following list of generational ages:

Generation Time Frame Age Now
The Silent Generation 1928-1945 79-96
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 60-78
Gen X 1965-1980 44-59
Millennials 1981-1996 28-43
Gen Z 1997-2012 12-27
Gen Alpha Early 2010s-2025 0-11

My brothers and sisters, there have always been generational and war-related struggles affecting our youth through the centuries, but it would be uncaring and frankly, wrong, to take the arrogant and simple approach of writing off the current generations as “weak” because of the level of anxiety and differing perspectives regarding faith, personal relationships, politics, work ethics, life goals and even entertainment.

All of us, and most especially those of us who are parents, would do well to remember the days of our youth and how the heartaches and disappointments of our lives were very “real” and often hurt us deeply.  There is nothing loving and caring about a mature person, let alone a professing Christian, who belittles the experiences of the current generation(s), as their life experiences are so very different from, for example, those of us who fall into the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations.

With the advent of personal computing, cellular telephones, texting and multiple social media sites, which are now a mainstay of day-to-day life for our young persons (and even most all of us – if we’re honest), life is different than when many of us grew up.  Note I didn’t say worse or better…

This writer grew up in the day when children walked to school.  In fact, I walked to kindergarten and back home each day alone.  The thought of that would horrify most folks nowadays.  We rode bikes all over the city’s streets and played with our friends outside until suppertime.  While it’s easy to say “well, when I was your age…” to those younger than us, it is not helpful and again, it’s wrong.  Our children are NOT living in “our days” and we must be willing to embrace that fact, pray for them, and provide the best life – complete with a strong biblical worldview and helping them to walk in an understanding of the emotional (and educational) challenges they navigate every single day (see Ephesians 6:1-4).

I am aware of several (ongoing) situations in which younger persons are attempting and/or contemplating suicide.  With increasing use and availability of illicit (and now even legalized) drugs, anxiety over current national and world events, delayed or eliminated school-related activities and one-on-one personal friendships, the general isolationism of our current culture, and the sometimes-resulting depression, it can be far too easy for the devil to gain a foothold.

We all, as humans, have the tendency to sometimes forget, or to take for granted, our true identity.  We are made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26-28).  We are loved by the Father more than we could ever truly grasp.  In fact, the bible says that the Father loves you and me just like He loves Jesus (see John 17:20-23)!

How very important it is that we step forward to love, cover and influence the younger persons in our lives, always pointing them toward the salvation, wisdom, confidence and peace available only through Christ Jesus!  The answer to our troubles, young or old, is Jesus.  You see, the Truth is a Person and His name is Jesus (see John 14:6)!

Let’s resist the temptation to become overly self-focused, self-righteous or arrogant in our views and interactions with the beautiful persons of our younger generations.  God speaks to their hearts just as He speaks to our hearts.  Pray that they, as we pray for ourselves, will be able to withstand and overcome the lies of the evil one, and that they may live lives of boldness for Christ (see Ephesians 6:11-13).  Amen.

Here are the above-referenced scriptures:

Ephesians 6:1-4 (NKJV)
Children and Parents
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise:  ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’  And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord [emphasis mine].”

Genesis 1:26-28 (NKJV)
“Then God said, ‘[l]et Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him [emphasis mine]; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them…”.

John 17:20-23 (NKJV)
Jesus Prays to the Father – The Father Loves Us Just Like He Loves Jesus
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me [emphasis mine].”

John 14:6 (NKJV)
“Jesus said to [Thomas], ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

Ephesians 6:11-13 (NKJV)
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, [and] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore[,] take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Praise Jesus forevermore!

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