Today we interrupt Interruptions.

Never in the history of Interruptions have we had a guest Interrupter. Admittedly, a short history with Interruptions since it began last March.

When I wrote Interruption #172 … Suffering As Joy, a sister, who I have long respected, responded by saying that we needed a “Theology of Suffering” for teens.

Since I do not have teens living with me and she does, I asked her to write the following Interruption.

So…

Interruption #187 … A Theology of Suffering for Teens by Marlo Fox!

And then, after your brief suffering, the God of all loving grace, who has called you to share in his eternal glory in Christ, will personally and powerfully restore you and make you stronger than ever. Yes, he will set you firmly in place and build you up.  1 Peter 5:10 (TPT)

When I was coming of age in the 90’s, the youth of my generation had to be reassured that Jesus was cool and fun. At that time, many of us “church kids” had grown up under the weight of legalism.

We needed to hear that God loved us as we are and that following him was a joy, not a burden.

One thing I’ve come to learn in raising youth in the current generation is that their context is very different. Today, by the time they enter middle school, young teens have likely wrestled with questions like: Why are my friends cutting or trying to commit suicide? Why are people being abused or abandoned? 

While each generation has dealt with its own forms of trauma, the exposure to deep emotional and relational pain feels pervasive today. It’s a lot to process when you are barely a teenager and trying to reconcile the goodness of God against the suffering right in front of you.

I believe today’s teens need to be intentionally discipled in a theology of suffering.

Perhaps as parents or leaders we struggle to do this because we ourselves would rather embrace the resurrected Jesus and skip over the cross. The truth is, from the moment our Creator entered creation as incarnate Jesus, He showed us what the path of suffering would look like.

Jesus demonstrated His faithful presence and abiding care for the hurting at every turn.

In many ways, I think because of their early exposure to suffering, our youth can become compassionate healers among their generation through the power and presence of God.

Much is at stake here. Some of our youth are walking away from faith under the weight and confusion of the pain in and around them. We know that God uses suffering to transform us.

Pain that is not transformed is often passed on to others.

I hope and pray that each of us will be equipped to mentor our youth through their suffering, pointing them to Jesus who mysteriously works all things for our good and His glory.

Marlo is the Executive Director of ThinkTank, an organization seeking to equip other organizations to respond to poverty in ways that promote human dignity and lasting change. Interruptions will ask Marlo to be a future Interrupter with more specifics on the theology of suffering for teens.