By Glyn Henman
The last 12 months have sure thrown up some challenges for all Australians. With soul wrenching drought, the devastation of a record-breaking bush fire season, flooding rains and now COVID-19 and a nation wide lockdown. What are we to make of this time in history? What impact is it having upon our young people? Research will bring some answers to these questions in time, and time itself will show the depth of impact.
But what can we do right now? Let me first reflect on what I am seeing and hearing about what is happening with our teens.
Born in the age of 9-11
This current senior high school cohort were born in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, they entered their schooling during the GFC and now they are facing their final years of education studying from their bedrooms for months.
With this comes the disappointment of not been able to finish well and do all of the ‘last things’ you get to do with your classmates. The last sports carnival, the last school production, the last presentation, not to mention the loss of those key relationships with friends and teachers which so often bring inspiration for who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives. The sense of loss and disruption will linger, even if Australia manages to re-open and keep the Covid-19 cases in check. For teens in middle high school there is confusion and boredom and a sense of ‘why bother’.
Is there any hope? I believe there is. As I reflect on my grandmother’s life, born in the late 19th century, her stories gather new meaning. My grandmother lived her life through two world wars, the Spanish Flu and a technological revolution (think: horse and cart to man walking on the moon). What a resilient and innovative generation! This current generation of young people will also rise. Adversity brings opportunity. Opportunities are taken by those who are open to new things and young people are the most open group among us. It will look different, but there is hope.
Gratitude and seeds of hope
As I listen to my daughters reflect upon this time and how their friends are feeling, the sadness, fear and sense of loss is clear. But they are grateful to have the security of family nearby. They are thankful they can still get an education and they see opportunities in their future. They are hopeful for their friends too because Covid-19 has provided both time and a reason to explore old answers to the big issues of meaning and hope.
Will this generation be as resilient and innovative as my grandparent’s generation? I believe so and time will tell.
So, what can we do right now? We can pray.
Pray that God will be our security, that people will turn to him, seek His face and be protected in troubled times. Psalm 91.
Pray for Jesus to be lifted up so He will draw all of mankind to himself and for us to walk in the light. John 12:30-36.
Pray for the hope and true rest that comes from God. Psalm 62:5-8.
Pray for young people (and their families) in our community as they battle the highs and lows of living during a pandemic; and for clarity and a new vision as opportunities come their way. Isaiah 40:28-31.