When it comes to teenagers, many situations break my heart. But one of the biggest heart breaks comes when seeing teens without hope. I've seen this in varying degrees and varying time periods. One day the kid thinks all is lost, and the very next day they can be on cloud nine. The longer you work with teens, the more you can recognize these mood swings and know that they are different than true hopelessness.
In a church/youth group environment, when a teen is experiencing such hopelessness, Don and I (individually or collectively) have been able to combat that condition with the hope that Christ gives us all. Not only have we prayed for the teen, but we could pray with him/her as well. I think this alone gave some hope to them. We could give them scripture to hold on to and meditate on. We could take them out for a coke and let them pour out their heart. We had so many resources, and I felt comfortable and knowledgeable.
I no longer work officially as a youth worker, but have a job where I have the privilege of working with middle school teens. I have now seen this hopelessness in some of the kids I work with. There's two girls that I really feel is suffering right now. They haven't shared much of their personal life (as a youth group kid probably would) but it's clear that they aren't happy, and that it's more than just a mood swing.
One symptom is that they have lost all motivation to be at school. They just don't see the need to be there, to learn, to push on to higher education (and at this point, that's high school). They don't do what's required of them, they don't participate in discussions, and they're grades are almost at rock bottom.
When I talk to them, I feel helpless to help them. I can't bring my faith into the conversation. I can't share the hope that God gives me. I can't even take them out for a coke to allow them the opportunity to talk. About all I can do is pray for them and continue to show I care by engaging them in conversation.
This has been weighing heavily on me. I want to help. I took this job with a request of God to use me, as He sees fit, to help the kids I come in contact with. Am I supposed to help these two girls? How? My prayer will continue to be that if this is what He wants, He will show me how and give me the opportunities.
In the mean time, my heart breaks.