October 25, 2019
You’ve probably heard someone say it. Or maybe you hear it all the time: “Iba na talaga ang kabataan ngayon.”
That is how many of the older generation would refer to young people today. Maybe you’ll even hear a “tsk, tsk” or a resigned sigh at the end.
Every generation is surely a bit different from those before it, but somehow, we always hear how different this “selfie and insta-generation” is. This is now the common refrain: The youth today are so different. But it used to be: “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.”
This well-known line has been expressed from generation to generation ever since Rizal first put it into writing. But now, is it nothing more than just wishful thinking?
Is this the reality for a teenager who dropped out of high school because of an unplanned pregnancy? Can this be said of a young man who has to tell his parents that he’s HIV positive? Does this echo through campus corridors and homes where students struggle through anxiety and depression?
This generation to whom the future belongs seems to be facing challenges that are not so different from those that plagued past generations. Yet, these troubles have marked the youth of today like never before.
The Population Commission reports that “24 babies are born to teenage mothers every hour and almost 200,000 Filipino teens get pregnant annually, most of them from ages 15 to 19.”
UNAIDS, the United Nations’ joint program against HIV and AIDS, says that “the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific.” The Department of Health, meanwhile, adds that 31% of these HIV cases are males aged 15 to 24 years old.
The World Health Organization found that depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and that suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-olds.
These disheartening statistics are not the case for all young people. But every digit represents a life. Every young person represents a family’s hope for the future.
So, how can we keep hoping? As I grappled with this question, I yearned to answer with the same boldness and conviction that Rizal seemed to have when he wrote that inspiring declaration.
Then I realized that our hope for the next generation shouldn’t be anchored on young people or on how they behave. Instead, we hope because He who promised is faithful.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
The writer of this letter to the Hebrews assured the early Christians that their redemption is sure, because God is faithful to keep His promises. In the same way, we can keep hoping because God is at work in the lives of the next generation and He is the one who gives them hope and a future.
We can keep hoping for the next generation because God is sovereign over all our lives and over the destiny of our nation, just as God was in control of the welfare of the Israelites.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
The hopes and dreams of a Grade 11 student’s parents can come to a standstill when they learn that she is pregnant. A 17-year-old boy may not know how to move forward into his future when he finds out he has HIV. Hope may seem like an empty word for a student who battles depression. But we can keep hoping. Because He who promised is faithful.
When God gave that promise of hope and a future through Jeremiah, He wasn’t just talking about who you will be in 10 years or to encourage you in whatever trouble you’re going through right now.
The promise of a future that we can all look forward to is an enduring and eternal hope—the hope that comes from Jesus. He said that He had come so we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). And this is not just a future hope; we can experience full life in Jesus today!
In Jesus, you can have a fresh start.
In Jesus, it’s never too late.
In Jesus, you can believe for healing and restoration.
In Jesus, you can take hold of the promises of God for your life.
In Jesus, we can take hold of the youth as the future of this nation.
He has already gone ahead of us so we can keep hoping.
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us.
Hebrews 6:19,20 (NLT)
And if you are that student who’s suffering through sleepless nights of anxiety or bearing the consequences of a big mistake and you’re wondering how you can get through another tough, painful day, know that God knows right where you are in your struggle. He is for you. You can hope in Him.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.