Originally Published in The Global Voice, Issue 1, Vol. 18, March 2018.
Read the whole edition here.
I am not ashamed of God’s way. I am not ashamed to say that all of our programs are based upon our best effort to honor God, his word, and humbly respect the people we serve in the process. It’s a hostile world and people are looking for rest. So many have been hurt and their injury puts them in a defensive position that has them striking out against anyone reaching out, even to help. For so many, the injury happened when they were young, and unfortunately, it never received the attention necessary for healing.
There are two ways to approach this situation: First, there is the restorative, or healing approach, where the person who was injured finally receives the attention and care that leads to a restoration of trust and confidence in the world around them. The success of the process is highly dependent upon the volitional participation of the one in need. This is a very difficult service to render because the injury has lent itself to enhanced sensitivities related to anything similar to whatever it was that the injured person experienced that contributed to their pain. In such cases, the person injured in this way gravitates toward ideologies and systems that fit their newly prescribed criteria for what it means to have a healthy environment, or live a healthy lifestyle. For most people in this situation, that criteria is self-prescribed and most often the polar opposite of whatever it was they experienced that led to the injury. This seems to be the case even when they think they’ve moved towards something more balanced. A test to determine such a situation would likely demonstrate that there was a failed integration of the past into their present construct for health and safety. I’m so thankful to the many services and ministries that are out there to addresses the pains of an injured society. I’m also thankful that we get the opportunity to serve in this capacity all those who are willing to learn and find rest.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The second approach is to give people the tools to navigate their hostile world. This approach is concerned with offering a venue and a framework that promotes health, safety, and an opportunity to grow. This venue would have to be a place where mistakes are not scolded as much as they are turned into opportunities to learn how to receive mercy and give mercy -how to fail, but never give up. It would offer such people a way to integrate and mature alongside those who just need the opportunity to develop.
Unfortunately, reports have been published, such as a recent study by the CDC, which appeared in the Washington Post on May 3rd, 2016. The report revealed that for kids who are diagnosed with ADHD, “an eyebrow-raising 75%” are receiving drugs as treatment shortly after they have been identified in schools as lacking the ability to concentrate, or displaying tendencies that reflect hyperactivity.(1) This statistic is alarming not because medication is being used to address a perceived problem, but because the study seems to indicate the immediacy with which medication is accessed to address a problem, even in young children.
We all know that a lot of the injuries adults are recovering from were received during those vulnerable years of childhood and adolescence. Even as parents, and as a society, it’s a legitimate desire to see kids protected and assisted in navigating the potential for injury due to their behavior, and the option for a quick fix is all too readily available.
On one occasion, Jesus returned to find his disciples unable to help a boy whose father had brought him to them for help. The child was prone to tantrums and would even hurt himself during these episodes. After telling Jesus they couldn’t remedy the situation, Jesus criticized the entire generation by saying, “O faithless and distorted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here” (Matthew 17:17). Jesus brought healing to the boy and returned him to his father well, as you would expect. However, it’s the examination of the happenstance where our generation should be challenged. Jesus’ statement identifies the faithless and distorted response of the generation as the issue. He doesn’t say anything is wrong with the boy. He identifies the wrong in the generation. How were they faithless? What was so distorted about their response?
It’s my opinion that they were faithless because they gave up too soon. They were distorted in their perception of the situation because they considered their approach as ineffective, for no other reason than it wasn’t a quick fix. Jesus shows them that the boy could be restored, but they needed the kind of patience that he would go on to describe as coming through prayer and even fasting (Mark 9:29). Prayer and fasting are actions that take place over the course of time and require both consistency, and again, faithfulness.
Giving kids a venue and a framework that promotes health, safety, and an opportunity to grow, is an essential element to the work of the Kingdom of God. In this edition of the Global Voice, you’ll read articles related to how we’re doing this for young people through our program, CASE. We are providing for these young people healthy, caring role-models, re-contextualizing perceived failures as opportunities to learn, offering them tools to resolve conflict, so that they can exhibit confidence; and in our cooperation with Jesus we’re able to give them to their parents, well.
(1) In no way am I trying to say that some diagnoses aren’t legitimate, but I am questioning whether our (America’s) approach to addressing such symptoms should be, so quickly, medication, as stated in the following article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/05/03/cdc-warns-that-americans-may-be-overmedicating-two-to-five-year-olds-with-adhd/?utm_term=.857b5e405566