Content Warning: This post mentions the hard reality of teen suicide through loss of hope, though the message is hopeful and encouraging.
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by Lauren Daigle
“You say I am loved, when I can’t feel a thing,
You say I am strong, when I think I am weak,
You say I am held, when I am falling short,
And when I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours.
“And I believe, oh I believe
What you say of me
My son Owen had a good friend named Elliot.* They ran track together in middle school and their friendship continued in high school as they had many classes together. Over time Elliot started to pull away, but he was still kind. One day when I went to the school to watch presentations that the students had put together for science, Elliot caught my attention. He seemed extremely intelligent, with a tender heart. Like many teenagers, he seemed to carry a heaviness that belied his years. He may have been fifteen years old, but I just wanted to give him a big hug.
A few weeks later, Elliot took his own life. He lost all hope in this world that couldn’t meet his spiritual needs.
At the funeral, his parents played the song “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. They couldn’t have chosen a more perfect song.
Each of us desperately searches for hope in being known, being secure, having a purpose, and belonging. We look anywhere we can to feed those needs. And we may not be aware that what we are feeding ourselves may actually be making the problem worse. Like Snickers to a malnourished man, it feels like it satisfies, but only for a moment because it isn’t the nourishment that his body really needs. God is the great giver of true hope.
Take this online quiz by Cru High School Ministries to see whether you most long to be known, to be secure, to have a purpose, or to belong.
Hope in Being Known
“You say I am loved, when I can’t feel a thing.”
In the movie Avatar (the one with the blue people), the characters greeted each other by saying “I see you.” I think that was incredibly profound. What a beautiful notion.
But God does one better. He says, “I see you, and I love you.”
I see your pain. I see your hurt. I see your mistakes. I see your beauty. I see your talents. I see your value. I see you. I love you.
“Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.”
“You are altogether beautiful, my love, there is no flaw in you.”
Song of Solomon 4:7
Hope in Being Secure
“You say I am strong, when I think I am weak”
If you could be a superhero, what powers would you choose? I would choose super strength. I often feel unsafe as a small woman. I would love to have the feelings of security that I imagine would come from Buffy the Vampire Slayer super-strength. I would never have to be afraid for my safety.
God didn’t give me super strength. And he didn’t give me a bottomless bank account to give me security, either.
But again he does one better. Instead of giving us super-strength, he gives us his strength. Our security is in him, and he says he will never leave us alone. Ever.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 ESV
“For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.”
Psalm 18:29 ESV
Hope in Having a Purpose
“You say I am held, when I am falling short”
What if Mozart never tried to write music? What if DaVinci never picked up a paintbrush?
What if there is something I was made to do and I never accomplish it? What if the world is no different for me having lived in it? “What if all I ever did was steal oxygen from someone who would have used it better?” A young friend asked me that once. Ouch.
Beloved friends, you will fall short. You will fail.
But also, God has a good plan for your life and your time in this world. So he will pick you up, dust you off, and bring you along, now better prepared, to carry out his purpose and calling for your life.
And that purpose doesn’t define your worth. God will not love you more if you check off more lists. He delights in you because of who he is, not because of what you do.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24 ESV
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6 ESV
Hope in Belonging
“And when I don’t belong, oh, You say I am yours”
A few years ago I attended a seminar about the difficulties of raising Christian youth in a secular world. The speaker used a picture like this to show what it feels like for young people to be the Christian among their peers.
Even though the red rose is beautiful, and it illustrates the beauty of standing out from the crowd, this poignant illustration also evokes our desire to belong. We desire to fit in. Or maybe to at least be accepted into a community despite not fitting in.
We may find belonging in Christian community, or we may hop from church to church, broken and hurting, because we never feel like we belong.
But God says, Beloved, you are mine. You belong to me.
We were far away, lost and alone, and God said, “I want her. I want her to be a part of my family.” So he came close to bring us into his family. He gave up his own life so we could come near to him and be with him eternally.
Wow. That is belonging. We may never feel it perfectly here on earth. It’s 100% true, but it may take a glorified body and soul to be able to comprehend the depth of belonging that is ours in Jesus. But I pray that God will give you many tastes of belonging to hold you firm until the day he opens his arms wide and you run into them – literally!
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 2:12-13 ESV
Friends, I hope that you will put down the spiritual Snickers bars, which only satisfy for a moment, and take up the nourishing truth of God, in whom you are known and loved, in whom you have security and purpose (and acceptance when you fall), and in whom you perfectly belong forever.