After posting the new song from Matchbox 20 below, I decided to use it as a focus for a discussion at youth group this past Sunday. Several of our youth had been having a conversation on FaceBook about the St. Louis-based (now national) story of the teen that committed suicide after being harassed on MySpace by a "boy" that turned out to be parents of her ex-friend. One response posted by a youth after hearing the story read "I have lost my faith in humanity."
Teenagers, for many developmental reasons, are very sensitive to issues of injustice, and the fact that in this case it seems to be adults that are the culprits made the situation seem all the more intolerable to them. For some, it was just one more example of how messed up the world is. This, of course, is the theme of Matchbox 20's song "How Far We've Come." So, after listening to the song, we delved into some pretty deep questions about life, the universe and everything ("Do you think the world is headed for 'hell'?" "What is the meaning of life in a world torn apart by violence and injustice?" "Where do you turn to when your own world seems to be coming to an end?" "Where is hope?"
We then looked at some scriptures that speak to the hope we find in God's promise to be with us in times of struggle (Psalm 46, Romans 8:38-39, Philippians 4:8,9, Matthew 6:25-26, 30b, 33b-34). We considered the gospel promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God and what that means for how we might live our lives. And we considered where we might experience God's presence in times of trouble (One student remarked that he regrettably doesn't go to God when he struggling. He goes to his friends. Another student responded "But maybe that is God, connecting with you through your friends." Others said they seek out comfort in their music.)
Noticeably absent was any discussion of our hope being grounded in a better life after this one. What I challenged my youth to consider are the ways in which we can open ourselves to live in the "kindom" of God here-and-now through the ways we love ourselves and others. In the end, more questions were asked than answers given, but I put great faith in the brain to take those questions, to ponder them, and perhaps to begin to see the world with new eyes.