Around the globe, an entire generation has been jolted by the blaring alarm of uncertainty. For months, there have been no schools to attend, no gatherings to enjoy, no sporting events or performances at which to applaud. Life as we know it has been on perpetual snooze with no definitive timeline of when the pandemic will end or what the new normal will be.
Many are questioning how the landscape of society, academia and business will be affected by students of all ages who have missed months of conventional school and lost the social interaction of peers. Classrooms that serve as an organic lab to grow emotional intelligence have been closed indefinitely. For a generation infamously known for being locked into screens, could the recent lockdown push them further into social isolation and disengagement?
Or, with life’s fragility on full display, could this experience awaken this generation to something – to Someone – greater than themselves? Could the coronavirus be the catalyst that transforms Gen Z into the next Greatest Generation? Could sickness shift this generation’s purpose from incessantly posting selfies to being unceasingly selfless, from living vicariously through social media to living intentionally for the social wellbeing of others?
Could a worldwide virus bring to light the spiritual virus of sin in all of us?
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
God promises to cause all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Let this pandemic teach all generations that the promises of God never fail and the gospel never stumbles.
My girls and I were studying Isaac Newton recently, and it was amazing to read that he was a college student during the Great Plague of London. He was sent home for social distancing like our youth across the globe, and in that time he discovered calculus and the laws of motion. His isolation ended up being a tremendous blessing for the entire world and countless generations that proceeded him.
Newton's world-changing discoveries should be an encouragement to us that God is going to use this time - whatever it looks like in the future - for shaping and strengthening future generations. For Gen Z in particular (all of those born after 1996), this pandemic could somehow in the mysterious workings of God prepare them to take the gospel to the very ends of the earth. God, of course, knows exactly how to equip them for that mission.
God's faithfulness doesn't fail in disaster. It goes into overdrive.
“Know that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps his gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love him and keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
Just as God kept His promise to Abraham to make him biologically fruitful, God will keep His promise to make this generation spiritually fruitful if they abide in Him. God hasn’t overlooked or abandoned our children; He is training and preparing them for the good works prepared in advance for them (Ephesians 2:10).
“I will make you extremely fruitful … I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation” (Genesis 17:6).
Jesus tells us to abide in Him as He abides in us, and we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). The fruitfulness of the generations could be repentance, righteousness, obedience, and godly wisdom. What if, in this midst of this uncertainty, fear of the future was exchanged for a fear of the Lord and boldness for the name of Jesus (Proverbs 9:10)?
“Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:6).
This quarantine has quieted the world so the truths of the gospel can be heard by the next generation. Through screens and social issues, our youth are inundated with the world’s false messages. Let us pray for God to use us – parents, grandparents, mentors and the Church – imperfect vessels bearing the perfect message of grace and redemption through Jesus.
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). “… tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord…” (Psalm 78:4).
As guardians of the next generation, we are called to pass the baton of truth and encourage our youth with the faithfulness of God.
Because the world is in desperate need of revival, and America in particular. Our children are growing up in a culture determined to normalize sin and forsake God’s commands. More than 25% of the United States population now identifies as either atheist, agnostic or “nothing”, according to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2019. A recent survey of incoming U.S. college freshman found that 30.9% had no religious affiliation whatsoever.
As a vaccine is sought to protect against this virus, let us humbly seek the face of God - a face unmasked and emanating unconditional love. Let us aim to not shelter our kids from discomfort but equip them to thrive amidst struggle by seeking the Savior.
Before the doors of schools reopen, let us pray for God to open our children’s eyes, that they would know the unchanging truths of His perfect and holy instruction (Psalm 119:18). More than educational degrees, let us pray for God’s everlasting decrees to become this generation's counselors and delight.
Let this Google-driven generation learn as their great-grandparents did in the trenches of recession, war and ration, that God is the real refuge and Helper always found in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Our society has been in a spiritual stupor for the last 50 years, but we are not too far gone for the Lord’s outstretched arm. “His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). The gift of God's mercy is new for us every morning. Great is His faithfulness and His pursuit of us (Lamentations 3:23).
Contrary to how some may feel, God hasn’t abandoned us. Whether you are 8, 18 or 80, God is for you. He is mercifully using this trial, at this time, to draw you closer to Him.
Because an absence of affliction isn’t going to produce peace for our children or peace for us. Social issues will never be solved without God. It is the Prince of Peace working through the pain, through the pandemic, through the uncertainty - faithfully providing, teaching and comforting - that will give this generation the confidence needed to live life to the full and to walk in the plans and purposes God has for them.
“Lord, You have been our refuge in every generation. Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity ...” (Psalm 90:1-2).
May our children grow dependent on the Lord and not despondent in the face of disappointment. May they become students of His Word and say: “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalm 90:12).
This could be the generation that finally takes the gospel to the very ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). God is pressing them with pandemic to prepare them for proclamation.
"I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations with my mouth" (Psalm 89:1)
What I want my own children to know is that God loves them just as much as any generation before or after them. This pandemic isn't proof of an absent Father. God has plans to prosper them and not to harm them. Plans for a hope and a future that is certain and safe in His hands (Jeremiah 29:11), even when school is cancelled, college entrance exams are dropped, and summer internships are on hold.
This pandemic isn’t punishment and it doesn’t pause God’s provision. It unleashes it.
The stillness caused by the stay-at-home orders could be the turning point, a place for God to pour out His Spirit on the next generation. As they sit bored at home, let us pray they would lean in and listen to God's call on their lives. Oh that the Father would use the coronavirus to kindle and fan into flame the gift of God for our children (2 Timothy 1:6-7)!
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy ...” (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17).
God loves the generations, and He loves this next generation. He is calling them to rise up. He is shaping and strengthening them through this trial. May our children be the generation who declares God’s steadfast love, faithfulness and mighty acts to their peers and to the generation after them (Psalm 100:5, 145:4)
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).