Making Sense of Uncertain Times – MBFLP 257

How can we encourage our young adult sons to look forward to the future?

A listener asked the question, considering the wide-ranging effects of the pandemic response. What can we say or do to give hope to our young adults, when everything seems to have a roadblock? What do we do when college is reduced to online classes, when social opportunities are severely restricted, and many entry-level jobs aren’t hiring?

First, we need to recognize our sons’ struggles may be very different from our own.  Those of us in stable relationships, with family surrounding us and our careers well underway, will weather the storm very differently than the young man who is just starting out.

They need our understanding and sympathy. That’s only Biblical – Romans 12:15 tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who  weep.” Put yourself in his place – how would you feel if suddenly high school graduation wasn’t going to happen, and college would likely be video classes like the last semester of high school, and the great adventure of moving out and meeting new people was postponed indefinitely? It would be disappointing and disorienting, at best. Your son doesn’t have your perspective to give him some balance and patience!

Consider that when Jesus went to the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He wept. Even though He was about to bring Lazarus back from the dead, Jesus could share the immediate grief of the sisters. Surely we can be sympathetic to our sons’ worries before we try to fix them!

We have perspective they (probably) don’t 

This may be the first time your young adult had a total upheaval of long-held plans. It may feel like the end of the world to them. Those of us who have experienced sudden job loss or a health crisis might be able to say, “It’s not just the present trouble – there’s a certain amount of uncertainty in LIFE.” Times of greater or lesser disruption will come, but there are no guarantees about the next day’s plan (James 4:14).  In fact, our response to difficult times reveals our character.

In uncertain times, God intends us to keep going. When the Jews were taken away to Babylon, God acknowledged the disruption but told them to keep on with life – build houses, plant gardens, get married, raise families, and pray for the peace of their place of captivity (Jeremiah 29:4-7). Jesus described the end times (in Matthew 24) as master leaving on a journey and returning unexpectedly – he wants to find his servants watchful but working!

Uncertainty is a part of life, by God’s design – but He wants us to trust Him and keep on doing the best we know how!

Resources We Mentioned

Romans 12:15 – Weep with those who weep

John 11:1-44 – Jesus wept

James 4:13-15 – You do not know what will happen tomorrow; for what is your life? It is even a vapor … 

Jeremiah 29:4-7 – God’s instructions to the Jews in Babylon to live as normally as possible – even as captives and exiles!

Matthew 24:3-47 – Jesus describes the end times and suggests we should keep working until He comes!

Gary Smalley, If Only He Knew (the marriage book Hal mentioned)