A word many people use but when push comes to shove, when your back is against the wall, do you?
Each day I work with teenagers for Kick, and hope is something so few of them have. Some have vague ideas, but most of my mentees just survive. They do each day and have no direction and no idea if things will change. They don’t want things to get better because they know no better, yet they have a feeling things aren’t right.
How are you meant to have hope where you’ve been raised in a home with violent parents and you learn violence is a way to deal with situations? Then you get to school and naturally you’re violent but you get in trouble for that, even excluded from the environment.
How are you meant to have hope when your mother is drinking so much alcohol she can’t function? You love her but you never know whether she is going to be nice or angry. Is there going to be food for dinner or will all of the money have been spent on alcohol? Will you have a home or will that eviction notice finally be enacted?
These might sound like extreme situations but these are true stories of young people I work with every week. It’s hard! Hard to go through these situations with them, knowing they are so young and deserve so much more. On top of this, these young people are so regularly expected to keep up with their peers despite having major disadvantages throughout most of their life.
Life is filled with people that have ideas, or even 5-year-plans, but do they have hope? Hope that the things they are struggling with will change, hope they will get the job they are going for or hope for relationships. Do they have hope even when faced with severe injuries or even bereavement?
I was struck by the recent story of Simon Thomas, the Sky Sports presenter (ex-Blue Peter for those of you old enough to remember that) whose wife died last year. I was on a plane with him and his family just weeks before it happened and they looked like a normal family. Just weeks later he was faced with the prospect of raising his 8-year-old son on his own. It’s at this time I discovered Simon was a Christian. Even while working in an industry filled with men of strength who focus on success and not feelings Simon admitted he was weak. Over a series of blogs he poured out his struggles with people giving him advice like “Be strong.”
He wasn’t strong.
But that’s okay! It’s in our weakness that Jesus is made all the more glorious. Simon didn’t need to be strong as in his weakness he received more support than ever and while it is very hard he has hope in a God filled with goodness! My mentees don’t need to be strong, and it’s a lesson I teach them regularly. It’s in their weakness that we make our most progress and through this weakness we break down barriers to being hopeful.
The hope Jesus gives us is hard to describe. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 says “Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts.”
We are loved! Jesus says this and even when our families fail us or pass away, we are still loved by the one who created us. Loved so much that we can do nothing to stop Him loving us. So much that he would die for us. Love like this cultivates hope. It gives people a chance to dream bigger and believe things can and will get better.
I try to show the love Jesus would show us to so many of my mentees. My relationship with them is not conditional on how they treat me, or how they act, or their family backgrounds. I try to show them they are loved and when they know this they begin to dream again for their lives. So many of them have never known this kind of love, and so many people in our lives have only known poor quality love.
The love of Jesus gives us hope and purpose, and changes us forever. Everybody needs this, it’s just some people are better at pretending they’re okay without Jesus. We need to keep trying to show this love that brings hope and light into any situation and we will see hope restored to individuals and communities. The hope God gives me and the comfort I have in him give me hope not just for myself but for those that I work with.
Kick London Staff Coach