Adversity is part of the human experience. No matter how good we might think things are for us now, most of us have had an experience that we would classify as “difficult”, “scary”, or even “a crisis.” Many of us either live in such times or are in deep fear of such times coming to us even now. All of us should be aware that the world is not as we would like it to be, or even as God would like it to be, and it will never be until the end of time. Accordingly, as people who seek to follow God’s lead and seek to be in community with others who feel similarly led, we may rightly be concerned with other people. If you’re working with younger people, it might be hard to find a way to adequately approach this basic existential fact, so here are a few things that you might want to bear in mind as you do:

First, remember the words of the classic REM song: “Everybody hurts.” Even if they’re not struggling with keeping a job; keeping a roof over their heads; keeping a marriage together; living through a military conflict; or tackling a number of the bigger issues that come to mind when adults think about crises, young people experience stresses of their own. Everyone has “crisis” moments that are largely shaped by their life situations, and it is very important to remember that when helping a young person who is going through a tough time. Even when someone is struggling with something that seems “trivial” to you, it is not trivial to them, and their pain needs to be taken as seriously as anyone else’s. Never be condescending, disinterested, or dismissive when a young person trusts you enough to share their pain.

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