Current Events/My Culture/Teen Culture When it Feels Like the World is Ending by Kiernan Doyle “I heard that the world is ending. Is that true?” a classmate of mine innocently asked our elementary school teacher the first day back in our classroom. Our year had abruptly been put on hold the few days prior to deal with the unexpected aftermath of 9/11. I grew up in New York City during a really crazy time of uncertainty and helplessness. I’ve understood how many have felt these last few months. For me, 9/11 was one of those hinging points that hit me out of the blue and threw me out on the other, side into a place I haven’t been and a reality I haven’t experienced. One second I was in class and the next at my grandparents’ house waiting for members of our family to make contact and let us know that they were safe. After days of watching, replaying, and learning what happened that day, I was back with my classmates, all of us trying to catch our breath with everything feeling different and unsafe. My teacher paused and gathered her thoughts to answer the question, “Things are going to get better. I’m sure of it.” The Sky is Falling What do you even tell a group of people in the midst of helplessness? I don’t think that I would’ve been able to be so grounded as my teacher was in that moment. I don’t always deal with situations or problems that are out of my hands with the most prudence or grace. Lately, I’ve found myself struggling to find peace. I feel like I’m living in a world that’s all coming to an end. And often times, I let uncertainty and the horrors of that world guide and control me. I let the news build on itself, seeking out things that point towards a unanimous voice screaming out that everything is bad and that things aren’t ok. Storms, earthquakes, and natural disasters are building. Political tension is mounting. Horrible and senseless violence is getting worse and worse. The sky is falling. Then, Las Vegas happens. Look at the Cross The events that took place a few days ago in Vegas were blindsiding. There’s really no other way to put it. I didn’t really know where to look for hope. I for sure haven’t been finding it on my Twitter feed or in the news as of late. So a friend of mine made a suggestion, “why don’t you look towards the cross?” Not sure what to expect, I gave it a try. I looked at the cross. I looked at true confusion. I looked at the price of the brokenness of humanity. Then I saw something beyond that moment of Crucifixion. I saw the Resurrection that comes after Christ’s death. I saw hope. Christ broke into our reality on earth and redeemed all humanity in His victory on the cross. When the world gets scary, Christ wants to remind us of a truth: He already won. In His cross, Jesus doesn’t run away or get discouraged. Rather, He goes deep into the heart of pain and suffering and pulls out hope. So while it can be scary, we learn from suffering that there is always hope and comfort in the arms of a savior who has defeated over and over again hardship, even the hardships of our present day. There is always victory on the other side. There is always the Resurrection after the Passion. Be Like Mary This year on September 11th, 2017, I found myself in another hard situation. Hurricane Irma blew right through Florida, where my family currently lives, with forces unprecedented in that area. I lost contact with them during the storm and I was filled with a new sense of helplessness — helplessness as it felt like my personal world was ending. With Jesus was another faithful at the foot of the cross: Mary. While Mary looked on the cross with confusion and uncertainty, she never looked away. She experienced the helplessness we do when it feels like our hands are tied and watch as tragedy after tragedy unfolds. Yet she never lost hope that Jesus was her Redeemer and would glorify even His own death on a cross. Jesus gives us the gift of the witness of Mary. Mary is a witness to hope when it feels like life is being taken away from us. Walk With Hope These last few months have felt like a lot of things are happening at once, but the world is not ending. God will redeem each and every one of these evils. With that hope, Jesus calls us to trust in Him through practical habits. We can respond to horror with hope. This starts by being a good steward in local outreach. Find ways you and your youth group can respond to tragedies, local and national, to bring good where evil once was. It’s also a good practice and important to be honest about your concerns, fears, and entrust them to Jesus; also, you should be receptive to hearing those of the people around you. In bringing tragedy, horror, devastation, and actual evil to the light of Christ, we remain grounded in Him amidst the darkness that the world throws at us — even when it feels like the darkness is impossible to overcome. Search for, find, and count the ways Christ has blessed you and is already healing the wounds of this world. When we make our natural response that of gratitude, hope comes naturally and we begin to see the honest truth — the truth this world often passes by or overlooks. The reality is that Jesus has already overcome evil so we can believe with certain hope that things will really and truly always get better. I’m praying for it and I’m sure of it.