The start of the school year can be a very anxious time. Add to that the uncertainty of living through a pandemic with ever-changing restrictions and rules and it's no wonder we're all stressed out! God said to tell him all your worries because he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Give your worries to the Lord. He will take care of you. He will never let good people down.
Even though God made the universe and everything in it, he cares about you - your friends, your grades, your family, your relationships, your physical and mental health and much more. God is with you in the happy, good, laughing till you snort times and good hair days. He is also with you during the anxious, lonely, crying till you have snot running down your face days.
For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel free to come before God’s throne. Here there is grace. And we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.
Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died. He was in anguish when he was praying before he was crucified. He was disgusted when the people turned the temple courts into a market place (so much that he tipped over the tables). He experienced shame when he was hung on the cross. He was angry with the hypocritical religious leaders and called them a bunch of snakes. He was frustrated with the lack of faith of the believers.
Jesus can empathise with what you’re going through. He can relate to your worries. He was a human and a teenager. He experienced loneliness, temptation, persecution, happiness, love and everything in between.
One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is John 11:35 "Jesus wept." He had just found out that his friend, Lazarus. Verse 38 says that he was "deeply moved." Just before Jesus died on the cross Luke 22:44 says, "And being in anguish, he began praying more fervently and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down to the ground."
These verses remind me that although Jesus was God's son, he was also fully human. He experienced big feelings of pain, frustration, anger, sorrow, love and joy - just like we do. Hebrews 4:15 says, "Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but he never sinned."
God is not an angry judge who sits on his throne in heaven wagging his finger at us. He is a compassionate God who sent his son to live with us and die for us. Jesus understands our pain, our anger, our frustration, our sadness. Talk to him about your big feelings - he understands because he walked a mile in our shoes.
I read this brilliant Christian viewpoint on Black Lives Matter by author and pastor Kai Nilson:
“I used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a social media post earlier this week. As happens each time I use the phrase, someone asks, ‘Why not just say “all lives matter?”’ Here is my quick response: When one of my three kids gets hurt, it doesn’t make sense to say to them, ‘All my kids matter.’ In that moment, I embrace them and say , ‘You matter. Your pain matters. Your healing and return to health matters.’ That doesn’t diminish my love for my other kids. It expands my capacity to love as I live with another person’s pain.
Jesus did the same thing in his ministry. He didn’t say, ‘all people matter.’ He went to those who were hurting, who’d been denied a place at the table, who had been cast out of community and said ‘You Matter.’ Samaritans matter. Women matter. Tax collectors matter. Lepers matter. Did that mean he loved other people less? By no means. His life and ministry expanded the vision and capacity of his followers to love as they broke down the religious and cultural walls that had long divided people.”
Justice is important to God. Psalm 11:7 says, For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice. During his ministry on earth Jesus spent time with disenfranchised minority groups such as tax collectors, women, lepers and Samaritans.
Micah 6:8 says, The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”
I have a confession to make, I know that I have contributed (albeit unwittingly) to the problem because most of the people in the images on my website are caucasian. This has not been done deliberately, it's just that most of the images available are of caucasian people. I live in Australia in a richly diverse community. I will be making every effort to reflect that in the images I use in future and include people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
NOTE: It is complicated to use photos of Indigenous Australians on your website as you are required to get copyright permission and consent.
CHALLENGE: What are you going to do to be more inclusive and reach out to minority groups and the oppressed?
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.