School counselors and therapists are seeing an alarming rise in the number of anxious young people. This is way beyond the uncertainty experienced by the normal transition into adulthood. Anxiety has overtaken depression as the main reason college students seek counselling. And the last ten years have seen a doubling of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers.
A recent New York Times article described one high achiever who snapped one day, fought all efforts by his parents to persuade him to go to school and curled into a fetal position on the floor. After many months of expensive "treatment" (one residential care facility cost $910 per day), he gradually came to terms with his fear of failure.
The biblical statement that "perfect love casts out fear" has been buried by a godless education system and secular society. Man's heart was designed to rest in the comfort of a relationship with his Creator. No Bible training in the schools (and most homes), replaced by the teaching that we are just highly evolved animals, guts any confidence that life is worth the effort.
And the vacuum in the heart is still there after achieving adulthood. The 18-30-year-old Millennials are increasingly "getting in touch with their spiritual side" and providing a booming business for purveyors of witchcraft. Researchers find that 2 billion dollars a year is spent on "psychic services" like astrology, tarot-card readings, mediumship, crystals, literature, and other information.
One typical "boutique" sells a variety of charms and other "holy hardware." But on the side, workshops are offered in "Witchcraft 101" and instructions in performing séances. Over half of the young adults in the U.S. believe that astrology is actually a science. One astrology app released recently crashed three times in the first week because of high demand.
The boutique owner commented that the young people today feel caught in forces beyond their control and see spiritism as a way to "enact change in their lives." How sad no one has shown her where true change comes from.
In a large way, this is an indictment of the church who has failed to communicate the good news of freedom in Christ. God made Adam, and the rest of us, with that God-shaped vacuum in our spirits and we are either mildly uncomfortable or deeply fearful without trust in a loving God.
Of course, Satan is right there to offer some counterfeit comfort and disparage our true security in Christ. We have failed to warn against his plotting, with few today believing that he even exists. A message of easy believism ignoring the reality of hell has stripped the churches of their power to call men to repentance.
If we preached that hell is real and that Christ died to provide our escape, the message of God's love would mean something to a fearful and lost generation. Otherwise the church's overbalanced emphasis on God's love leaves people thinking hell is not an issue.
As the clouds of evil descend over our young people, distress levels of fear and depression will continue to rise.
What defense do we have? No longer are schools and culture our friend in raising our children or navigating our own way in the world. We are back to normal where the world sees the Gospel as dangerous or useless. Thus it has been for 90+ percent of Christian history. Jesus promised it would be so (see Luke 21:12; John 15:20).
So, what is our role? A light in the darkness; salt and light to the culture. How? If we put a no-nonsense gospel tract into the hand of everyone we meet, some will respond. Then we can share the joy and comfort of knowing that we are safe in the arms of Jesus.