Dealing with teens can be emotionally and mentally exhausting, and it’s easy to grow weary of their constant questioning of what we’ve learned to accept by faith. We have to remember that the peace we have come to enjoy did not come immediately; if it’s genuine, it came over time and after wrestling through the hard truths that God’s Word includes. When teens trust us with their questions, we need to model our Lord’s patience and wisdom in responding to them, encouraging them to dig into Scripture, their own hearts, and the world’s philosophies to obtain real answers.
For me, patience can be a huge issue. I do not like my plans interrupted (or my sleep!), and sometimes I really feel like my mind can use a break from thinking about intense doctrinal or philosophical issues. But then I look at Christ.
While Jesus Christ was fully God, He was also human. Throughout the gospels, we see instances of His being hungry, thirsty, and even weary. He knew His limits, and we see Him wisely carving out some alone time for some R&R, particularly when He had some of His own heartaches to take before His Father’s throne.
One time like that stands out in my mind. Mark 6:31 records our Lord’s response to the sad news of his cousin’s tragic death: He plans a getaway. Can’t we all identify with this need for a quiet vacation, after such disturbing news? Just a few verses later, we see His selflessness, even in the midst of His own grief: “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”
Out of this compassion-motivated change of plans comes the miraculous multiplication of 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough to feed over 5,000 people. After that, Christ does retreat to the mountains for a time, and returns to his disciples by walking on the water. Instead of growing frustrated at their almost illogical disbelief, He patiently tells Peter to keep his eyes on Him.
Another example that comes to mind is that fateful night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Like all good teachers (or counselors!), Christ gave His disciples some homework: Pray. Personally, I think that as much as He desired the kind of special attention God promises in corporate prayer (Matthew 18:20), He was giving them this assignment in order to reveal their own weakness. While that may seem unkind, it is actually quite gracious. After all, God the Father used the same tactics in His famous whirlwind discussions with Job. While it may seem like He was kicking a man when he was down, He was actually helping foster in Him the kind of humility that leads to trusting God.
As we meditate on Christ’s example and ask God to give us the grace to follow it, His Spirit will enable us to respond to the questions that interrupt our plans and challenge our selfish desires.