Right now, a high school in Ohio is aching from a recent school shooting, which left three dead. Right now, a high school in Illinois is mourning the loss of another student, the second in two months to walk in front of a commuter train. Right now, a middle school in New Hampshire is reeling from the memory of a student who publicly shot himself in the cafeteria.
Right now, one of my students is sticking up for another student who is being picked on in gym class. Right now, one of my students is offering to pray for a student whose parents are going through a divorce. Right now, one of my students is inviting a lonely girl to one of our fellowship events. Right now, one of my students is telling another student that she does not have to be held captive by her past, but that God’s love can bring freedom. Right now, one of my students is writing about his belief in God in an English paper, with the hopes that his teacher will be encouraged. Another one of my students is leading his biology teacher to faith in God. Another is offering a seat at his lunch table to a student that doesn’t fit in. Another is sitting at her lunch table, telling her friends that life is not random, but that God created us all and has a plan for us. Another is declining an offer to drink hard liquor in the parking lot. Another is standing bedside of a student with a tumor, telling her about eternal life. Another is asking about the cuts on a classmate’s arms, offering to talk and pray with her.
How do I know all of this? Because my students have told me. Week after week, they tell me. Week after week, year after year, my students share their stories with me. They’ve told me thousands of stories (literally) about how they’re actively sharing their hope in God. They are out in this broken world, storming the gates of darkness with a message of love and hope.
To put it another way, I can only imagine how many school tragedies have been avoided because of the bold witness of these students. And this is just one small youth group, in one church, in one city. There are thousands of more students in the world, who are offering hope to the hopeless, and friendship to the friendless.
But there is so much more work to do, as recent tragedies have made clear.
To my students, God is real. He is more real than the pain we experience. His love is the solution that we long for. In Jesus, they’ve found purpose, passion, and forgiveness. They’ve had answers to prayer, moments of joy, and opportunities for boldness.
In Scripture, God rarely answers the question “Why?” Why do tragedies happen? Why am I going through this? And so forth. However, everywhere in Scripture, God answers the question “What?” What are you doing about evil, God? God says, time and time again, “I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). What is God doing? God is using students and adults to overcome the darkness. God is bringing evil to an end; he is shutting this world down, in order to establish his Kingdom of perfect peace. So while we’ll never know why tragedies happen, we can always know what God is doing about it.
My prayer is for a generation of students who will continue to wage war on the gates of hell.
© Samuel Kee, 2012