I am 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I grew up in the church and believed in God, but now, I am not so sure. I see what is going on in this world, this country, and my hometown and I have to wonder if there is a God, where is he? I have friends whose parents both work full-time jobs and just barely have food on the table. She told me yesterday that they couldn’t even afford a single Christmas present this year. I see people starving not only all over the world but right here in my town. I read about human trafficking and people doing opioids to escape their pain.
I see people in my school that are so stressed out and have such low self-esteem that they hurt themselves or do whatever it takes to be liked. I see Instagram and Snapchat pictures of smiles on their faces but I look in their eyes and see nothing but hurt. I know I am loved, but there are so many people my age who do not feel loved or do not know who they are.
I have friends I go to church and Wildlife and now Younglife with that are having these same issues and are leaving the church or just quit believing. I want to believe there is a God, I want to believe there is hope and love in this world, but I am struggling.
Mr. editor, I am 14 years old, I should not have to worry if today is the day I go to school and someone will shoot me and my friends.
So, is there a God and if so, where is he?
First, thank you for your letter. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It does not matter if you are four or fourteen or forty-four, we are all frustrated with the world we live in.
I am not a theologian, simply a writer, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
A simple answer to your question, where is God, would be that we, or some people, asked him to leave our schools, we told him we didn’t need him and we stopped praying, we told him we could do it on our own. So, he simply left.
But like I said, that is a simple answer and also the wrong answer because I do not believe he left at all. I see teenagers every day that are making a difference. You probably see them, and maybe you are one of them, that take a stand against bullying, that reaches out to someone who is hurting, even if that person is not in their “circle.” They are the ones that will do what is right, not what is popular, no matter what others will think about them. Kylie, that is where you will find God.
I know our church collects gifts to give to those in need and can’t afford Christmas presents. Not only our church but churches and communities and individuals that give to the needy, like your friend’s family, so that they can have a Christmas. I know this time of year is hard for families with financial hardships, but when you see others giving and volunteering to help those in need, that is where God is.
I see the same news and social media you see about the evil in this world, such as human trafficking and drug overdoses. That’s what the news wants you to see, but they do not show the good that is out there. You truly have to search for it to know that for every bad news story, there is a good one. The Bible says seek and you will find.
I ask you to do that Kylie, turn away from the news feeds and search for good. Organizations like ECPAT-USA, ecoatusa.org, who are also international, or Polaris Project, polarisproject.org. Even right here in central Ohio there is Out Of Darkness Columbus Ohio, outofdarknesscolmbusoh.org and Live United Delaware County, liveuniteddelawarecounty.org.
There are thousands and thousands of other organizations and individuals that are fighting against evil in this world. That is where God is Kylie.
How do I know God exists? Take a look at our planet Earth. If it were positioned just a few inches from where it is located, it would not exist. Think about that Kylie. If the earth was located less than half the size of your iPhone, it would not be able to support human life. Scientists can’t even disagree with that.
How else do I know God exists? Well, it is you and me and every other human in this world. None of us are exactly the same. Who could make billions of people and not one of them is the same? How could billions of people exist that are all unique down to the tiniest DNA in their bodies if they were not created by God? Do you think that could happen by chance? I do not.
I did not always feel this way. Unlike you, Kylie, who grew up in church and knew about God and his love from the moment you were born, I did not. I did things my own way and ran my own life and was desperate to change the way I was living and one day I just stopped and turned around. I let God, who was pursuing me my entire life, catch me. And when he caught me, my life changed. I fell to my knees and I wept. Which was strange to me because I was raised to not show my feelings. To keep it all inside and be tough like a man. But that very moment God caught me, I was overwhelmed with love. As I learned about God, I learned about who he made me to be and what my identity is in Him. Not what everyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. That changed my life.
Kylie, I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been divorced twice and tore apart my family because I was selfish and did things my way. Christians are humans and like all humans, we all make mistakes. After I accepted God into my life, seven years ago the unthinkable happened. My wife had an affair. It started around this time of year and I kept hearing a voice, or having a sixth sense if you will, to check her emails. Call it God trying to get involved before it got too far or call it the devil trying to tell me to look at what I helped your wife do, I do not know, but I ignored it because I trusted her. Until I could not ignore it and I found out the truth. In my anger, rage, hurting, and how could you, I wanted a divorce. Then on January 17th, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning and crying and at 2:37 am, I felt the need to bundle up and take a walk. I remember the exact day and time because it is the first time I heard God speak to me. As I walked outside and tears streamed down my face and I yelled at God why, how could he let this happen, I looked up and saw the many many stars. In the stillness of the cold night, I heard him say stay, this is not about you, it’s about her and I need you to stay and be strong and help me help her come back to us. Over the next few weeks, a peace came over me and instead of yelling and saying hurtful things, I spoke words I never thought I could speak. They were not my words but God’s. Seven years later, even though not all is perfect, no marriage is, we are still proof of God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.
Kylie, Only God can heal a man like me, a marriage torn apart by an affair, and the brokenness of the people in this world.
We only have to be still and ask for him to help us and tell us what to do.
My dad did not believe in God. Thankfully, to his wonderful wife, my mother, who had a heart of gold and to his caretakers over the last few months of his life, and maybe to the way I lived my life after I accepted God, he accepted that Jesus is his lord and savior and invited him into his life shortly before he passed. I wish he could have had more time to know how much God loves him but in my grieving, I also knew that I would see him again. Only God can heal the grieving and the hurting Kylie.
Kylie, I wish everyone your age, or any age, knew what their true identity in Christ is. I believe that if everyone knew how much they were loved, how they were chosen to be born and that there is a plan for their life that there would less hurt in this world. I wish that they defined themselves as God defines them. That they would understand that false identity comes from the brokenness in this world. Trust that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that they were forgiven and that there is a better way to live this thing we call life. I wish that they would find their plan and purpose for what God has for them, not what this world tells them they should be.
Kylie, do not choose happiness. It is an emotion like sadness or anger or excitement. It comes and goes with circumstances. Choose joy and love Kylie. No matter what you are going through choose to love, choose to be joyful. That is where you will find God.
You can choose what your heart will follow, Kylie, and what your heart follows is where you will be. Choose goodness, compassion, empathy. Choose to follow the good in the world and people will follow you because they will see how you live. Kylie, that is where God will be.
I recently saw the movie Overcomer. I could tell you a million quotes that I wish every teenager would know in this social media world where everything is based on smiles and likes but one I would like to share is this: people always try to tell you to look like this person or do something this way because it is popular but knowing that God loves you and he made you, why would you want to be anyone else.
Be yourself. Kylie, When you realize and accept that, your self-image and your identity and your view of the world will change. Filter out the negatives and live in the positives.
You, Kylie, are a child of God and you are here for a reason.
Kylie, I wish this world was not what it is. I wish and pray today when you go to school that it won’t be your last day on this earth. But, I beg you Kylie, do not live in fear. God does not live in fear. Live with hope Kylie, go out today and change the world. Be the one who shows the world that God is alive and well and that he lives in you.
Kylie, even in the bad I see all around me, I choose to see the good more. From the morning sunrise to the evening stars, from the leafless trees of winter to the first flower that blooms in the spring. From the first breath a baby takes to the last breath someone breathes. There is a shell that covers this unseen world and people choose to believe in what only they can see but there are mysteries in the unseen that we will never fully understand but it is as real as the next breath you take. You must have faith, hope and love, Kylie. That is where God resides and that is where you will find him. From the beginning to the end, I choose to see God in all of it and that is how I know God was here yesterday, he is here today, and he will be here tomorrow.
Kylie, God is alive and well and he is in you. He made you and he saved you, he loves you, he blesses you, he protects you, you are chosen and he died for you, Kylie. If you will find it in your heart to believe how much you are loved and chosen then you, too, will see him everywhere for he will be with you everywhere you go.
In the good and the bad, in the laughter and the tragedy, seek him, Kylie. He is there.
And that my dearest Kylie, is how I know that God exists and that he is here today.