The (Good) News for Teenagers: Our Hope Is Not in a Vaccine

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We live in the time of both social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Whether we see it or not, our teenagers are inundated with news both local and international. At Rooted, we wanted to give youth workers and parents a way to frame the headlines for teenagers within the gospel narrative – that amidst both tragedy and joy, we have an abiding hope in Jesus. It’s important to talk to your teenagers about the news, but even more important to talk about what the Good News says about the news! Here’s The (Good) News for Teenagers.

Whats happening: Over the past two weeks, companies such as Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have announced major progress in the development of safe and successful vaccines against COVID-19. Touting trials that have produced immunizations with 90-95% efficacy, these pharmaceutical companies have given us some of the best news of 2020. Though we don’t have a timeline yet, it appears that the end of this grievous and exhausting COVID pandemic is in sight.

How to talk about it: The entire world desperately needs this vaccine. People are dying. Health care and essential workers are strained beyond endurance; teachers are educating in untenable conditions; millions are out of work, and businesses are closing. It is well and good to pray that this vaccine comes quickly and works effectively, and we are right to hope that widespread immunization happens as soon as possible.

But a vaccine cannot sustain the weight of our longings in a broken and desperate world.

Before you think I sound like a pious stick-in-the-mud, hear me out. I will be delighted to line up and receive my shot when that time comes. But if we over-fondly remember pre-pandemic “normal” as some kind of Eden we’ve been kicked out of, we risk sounding like the Israelites yearning for slavery in Egypt as they faced the privations of the desert. Normal before the pandemic included an impeachment trial, systemic racial injustice, Australia burning, and the shocking crash of Kobe Bryant’s airplane, among many other tragic and (apart from God) insurmountable problems. Post-pandemic “normal” will include all of these things, plus a host of new problems created by the last eight months.

If our hope lies in a vaccine – or any man-made solution – that hope will not only let us down, it will not sustain us in the challenges that certainly lie ahead.

Sometimes an event or an invention, a change in policy or even a change in an individual heart, can make our circumstances better. But circumstances and people are always prone to change, decay, and death. We need a vision more winsome and wonder-full to steady and sustain us.

So when we talk about the vaccine news with our teenagers, when we plan for a future in which our freedom of movement and gathering is restored, let’s not set our sights on a return to “normal,” because our normal was so much less than the coming kingdom Jesus died to secure for us.

“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” All these tonights later, Christ is still our best and only hope.

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