Young People With a Secure Future
“AS HORRIFYING and revolting as any [rape case] could be”—that was how the judge presiding over a recent trial described the crime. A gang of eight teenagers, ranging in age from 14 to 18, waylaid a female tourist in an inner-city area of London, subjected her to repeated sexual attacks, and then flung her into a nearby canal although she said she could not swim. Understandably, the mother of one of the teenagers declared that she felt sick when she saw the TV news report of what her son had done.
Sadly, this incident reflects what is happening in society today. Brutality has become the norm, whether in criminal activity, domestic strife, or the ethnic conflicts of the Balkans, central and western Africa, and elsewhere. Young people grow up amid such conditions, or they often hear about them. It is little wonder, then, that many develop a hard exterior, show “no natural affection,” and are “without self-control.”—2 Timothy 3:3.
When the Christian apostle Paul penned his second letter to his fellow elder Timothy, Rome was the dominant world power. Cruelty and savagery were rife in the Roman arenas. Yet, Paul warned that in the future, times would become “hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Interestingly, the Greek word that describes these times as being “hard to deal with” includes the thought of their being “fierce.” An incident during Jesus’ earthly ministry more than 30 years earlier shows what was behind some of the ferocity in his time.
Jesus had just arrived by boat at the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. As he stepped ashore, two men confronted him. Their wild appearance and screaming made it plain that something was radically wrong with them. They were “unusually fierce,” in fact, demon-possessed.a What they cried out issued from the wicked spirits that controlled their violent actions. “What have we to do with you, Son of God?” the men screamed. “Did you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” The wicked spirits that possessed the two knew full well that God had already fixed a time for executing his judgment on the demons. This would mean their everlasting destruction. But until then they were going to exercise their superhuman abilities to provoke fierce violence. Only Jesus’ miraculous action to expel those demons brought relief to the two men.—Matthew 8:28-32; Jude 6.
When people today, including youths, act in a crazed way, we do well to recall that incident. Why? Because in this 20th century, we face a related danger, as the Bible’s last book, Revelation, explains: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) Observe, please, that this humiliation for Satan is accompanied by “great anger” because he knows that his time is short.
As mentioned often in the pages of this journal, the year 1914 saw the enthronement of Christ Jesus as King of God’s Kingdom in heaven. Jesus immediately took action against God’s chief enemy, Satan. Thus, the Devil and his demons have been banished from heaven, and they now concentrate their attention on this earth. (Revelation 12:7-9) With his sphere of influence greatly restricted, Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) Who are easy prey for him? Is it not understandable that it would particularly be those who lack experience in life and human relationships? Young people today have thus become targets of the Devil. Through much of their music and leisure pursuits, they play right into the hands of this unseen wily manipulator.—Ephesians 6:11, 12.
Even when young people try to make something of their lives, they find themselves at a disadvantage. Since the end of World War II, people in many of the countries previously at war have tried to compensate by offering their families an affluent life-style. Material possessions, unrestrained leisure, and entertainment have become major goals. As a consequence, many have suffered. “Those who are determined to be rich,” Paul warned Timothy, “fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires . . . For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have . . . stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) By and large, we find the people of today’s materialistic society stabbed with economic, financial, and emotional pains. Among them are many young ones, victims of this ploy of God’s archenemy.
Happily, though, there is good news. And it concerns young people, those who have before them a secure future. How can this be?
Seek and You Will Find
Many young people have high ideals. They reject the deteriorating standards common among adults. They recoil at the injustice and callous attitude of power-hungry politicians and businessmen. If you are young, perhaps this is how you feel.
Consider Cedric, a young man in his late teens, whose experience is by no means unique.b As a child, he had many fears, including a fear of death. He wondered what purpose there is to life. Not finding answers to his questions by the time he was 15, he resigned himself to musing about life in the company of other idealistic youngsters. “We’d smoke dope and sit around talking for hours on end,” he recalls. “You felt everybody thought the same as you, but nobody had the answers.”
Cedric, like many young people, craved excitement. Simply taking drugs did not satisfy him. He soon became involved in stealing and trafficking in drugs. Still he sought new challenges. He began stealing to order. “I got a kick out of it,” he admits. “But I never took something from the common man. If I stole a car, I left it in good condition. If I burgled a business, I did so only where I knew they were covered by insurance. It helped me justify what I did.” As you might expect, Cedric ended up in prison.
Cedric remembers: “Mark, a fellow prisoner, talked to me. Noticing that I have a large cross tattooed on my upper arm, he asked me why I had this. He thought it must be important to me religiously.” A couple of weeks later, Mark gave Cedric a copy of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth.c “‘You Can Live Forever’—those few words struck me immediately. That’s what we had always talked about, but we had never been able to get to the bottom of it.” After many discussions with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who visited the prison, Cedric came to realize that what he aspired to was achievable—but only in God’s way.
“Once I stopped associating with my former friends, I made rapid progress,” Cedric notes. His progress in understanding and happiness has not been easy. “I am still working on it,” he says. “I have to be careful about the way I think.” Yes, Cedric now appreciates that being idealistic led him into a trap of the Devil, thinking that his goals could only be achieved by engaging in activities that center on excitement.
Happily, Cedric is long out of prison, and he enjoys regular fellowship with others who have found what they were searching for. He is now one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and shares their hope of living in Paradise here on earth. He also looks forward to the end of satanic influence in all its guises.
Of course, not only young people like Cedric have a secure future; others have been raised by godly parents, who instilled in their children a love of Bible truth.
Godly Training Pays Dividends
“Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it,” wrote wise King Solomon of old. (Proverbs 22:6) This has proved true in the case of many single-minded youngsters who have chosen to follow the Bible’s standard.
Sheila, Gordon, and Sarah did this. They recall that their parents placed much importance on obedience to Christ’s command to ‘go and make disciples’ by preaching the Kingdom good news. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) “In any decisions that had to be made, Mother and I used to say to each other, ‘How will it affect the preaching work?’” recalls Sheila. “We gave up many projects as a result of this reasoning,” she admits, adding, “but what blessings we had!” Even at the end of long days spent visiting the homes of people with the good news, Sheila and her mother trudged home singing. “My joy was full,” she says. “I can feel it now.”
Gordon remembers many an enjoyable Saturday evening. “I was invited to the homes of the elders of the congregation, where we had profitable quizzes and discussions. We were encouraged to memorize verses from the Bible, talk freely on Scriptural subjects, relate an experience of preaching, and learn how the Kingdom work was expanding,” Gordon recalls. “All these things helped me to lay a good foundation and to cultivate love for Jehovah God.”
Sarah has happy memories of evenings spent with visiting Witnesses. “We would have a meal together. Then to finish off the day, we played the piano, accompanying those singing songs about God’s Kingdom. Music really helped us a great deal, especially during our school years, because it allowed us to do things together as a family.”
Of course, not all young people who seek to please Jehovah have ideal family circumstances. However, close association with other Witness families in the congregation offers them security and a sense of belonging.
Treasure a Secure Foundation for the Future
Young people today have a choice. They can continue with this wicked world as it plunges headlong toward destruction in the coming “great tribulation” foretold by Jesus. Or they can “set their confidence in God himself and . . . observe his own commandments,” as the inspired psalmist Asaph sang. Obedience to God will prevent them from becoming “a generation stubborn and rebellious, a generation who had not prepared their heart and whose spirit was not trustworthy with God.”—Matthew 24:21; Psalm 78:6-8.
In the more than 80,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, you will find many young people whom you can admire. They have heeded Paul’s advice to young Timothy “to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future.” As a result, they have now got “a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:18, 19) Find out more about these genuine Christians by attending their meetings. Then you too can have the hope of a secure future.
b Names have been changed.
c Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Wicked spirits were behind the “unusually fierce” men that Jesus healed
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Building “a fine foundation for the future”