Letter to a Troubled Teen

by The Mad Preacher

TroubledTeenToday’s young people are faced with many challenges. Many feel overwhelmed with life and the heartache is so often brings.

“Each year in the U.S. thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year.”[1]

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

This is a response to an email from a troubled teen that I received several years ago while I was chaplain at J103 Radio here in Chattanooga, TN. There are many teens and young adults who are facing the same issues. My prayer is that it may help you.

Hello, Amber.

I’m Rod Davis, the chaplain at J103. I wanted to email you and let you know that we are praying for you. I also wanted to hopefully encourage you.

I’m happy to hear that you are doing better. I know personally what it’s like to feel so despondent, so hopeless that I wanted to end your life. Once, many years ago, I sit on the side of my bed with a gun trying to get up the nerve to use it. What made it worse was that I was a Christian. So, I know very well how despair and feelings of hopelessness and the pain that goes along with these feelings can make one act crazy sometimes. But you know, Amber, I’ve learned some valuable lessons since that experience that have really helped me to use the hurt and pain, that was meant to destroy me, to make me stronger. Here’s what I’ve learned.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” (Genesis 50:20) What Joseph said to his brothers who betrayed him and had sold him into slavery.

One of the best revelations that I’ve ever had is that God is good… all the time! He doesn’t have a bad hair day. God doesn’t get up on the wrong side of the bed. He’s never ill-tempered or difficult. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) We can depend on God, Amber, to remain consistent in his love, faithfulness and dedication to us.

God is good and he remains good all the time! Isn’t that great to know? You can trust God…all the time, because he’s good all the time? Because of this fact we know that whatever he allows to come into our lives is ultimately for our good, even though it may not seem like it at the time. We have God’s promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The original Greek word in this verse translated “know” means to become acquainted with through a process of encounters, to come to a settled persuasion. So, Paul was saying “I know from personal experience and have come to the settled persuasion that God is actively involved in working everything that happens to me, be it good or bad, together for my personal benefit.” That just blows me away!

God has brought you a long way, Amber. You’ve been through a lot in your short life. I understand what it’s to think that life is unfair. But remember this; God has no “Plan B”. Our God is Sovereign LORD over all our circumstances. Amber, this simply means that God is in complete control of your life. God never drops the ball. He doesn’t have to back up and punt. Unlike you and me, God needs no “Plan B” to fall back on.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1Peter 5:6-7)

 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint [I will be determined] and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:7)

I’ve faced many uncertainties over the years, Amber, and have had my share of terrible personal pain. Yet when the pressure is on; I’ve learned that this is the time to press on! So what I try to do, Amber, is to pray to the LORD and cast all my worry on him. Then much like the Roman soldiers of old who would drive the bottom of their shields into the soil to protect them and help them hold their ground in battle; I drive my shield of faith firmly into the ground of God’s Word. And by so doing, I become even more determined to trust the mighty hand of God to provide in a time of need. In other words, I set our face like flint by making a decision that God is indeed good and he’s good all the time. He is the Sovereign LORD who loves me and wants to help me in my time of need. On top if it all, Amber, God is my friend and I trust my friends.

How am I able to do this? It’s simple; I don’t claim to be some spiritual Superman. There’s nothing that makes me more special than the next person. Indeed, I’m no more special than you, Amber. But when I make the decision to stand against the attacks of the Enemy, that’s when the Sovereign LORD steps in and helped me. God helps by giving me the faith I need to trust him and the strength I need to continue in that trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The key phrase here is “lean not on your own understanding.” Don’t try to figure out why trouble comes your way. That line of reasoning will soon drive you nuts. Just remember that there are many times when God calls us to trust him even when we don’t have all the answers. In fact, God didn’t promise us answers. He promised us grace.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [“the thorn in my flesh” that tormented Paul] away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2Corinthians 12:8-9)

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)

Amber, you have a very tender heart toward God and he honors those who seek him as you do. So keep seeking him. Stay involved in a good youth group at church. Talk to your youth pastor and pastor about your feelings. Don’t face difficulty alone, okay? I hope that this has been encouraging to you.

God bless you, Amber!

Your friend,

Chaplain Rod

[1] Teen Suicide | American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

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