Young people have never had more access to everything they could want… yet, at the same time, they have never felt more lost or hopeless. But, of course, this is not new. There is nothing new under the sun.
In his new book Days of our Youth, school chaplain the Rev George Statheos is determined to show young people that the Teacher in Ecclesiastes has a message for them that’s more relevant than ever.
Anyone who works with young people, or has young people in their lives, can see that they spend a lot of time searching for meaning. They are endlessly seeking to figure out who they are, working out what they are passionate about and what they will live for. The world has plenty to offer young people, but it can’t offer anything that truly satisfies them.
“The book of Ecclesiastes has become the book for me – that is, [the book that] helps young people who are searching for answers, or helping their friends search for answers,” says Mr Statheos, who has been working as a chaplain for more than 20 years.
The book takes young people through the big concepts dealt with in Ecclesiastes – which also happen to be the big concepts of life: meaning and meaninglessness, the fleeting nature of life, pleasure, foundations, wisdom, wealth and the messed-up nature of the world and its people.
“There are some extraordinary verses about death [in Ecclesiastes],” Mr Statheos says. “The Teacher talks about who can control nature and who has power over death. He would have been blown away by the fact that someone can straighten out the mess that happens in the lives of young people – that is Jesus, and what Jesus came to do.”
Each chapter moves quickly and is filled with examples from life and Mr Statheos’ own teen years to help illustrate the message of Ecclesiastes. His aim was to keep the book short and readable, and at 160 pages he has made what could be a difficult part of the Bible easily accessible to many teenagers.
For youth leaders, this book will be a fresh resource they can put in the hands of the teens in their church. It not only addresses important topics but models good Bible reading habits such as working through one book and understanding verses in the context of the book they’re in.
Statheos has two big prayers for every person who reads Days of our Youth: “My prayer is that young people will see the book of Ecclesiastes – about someone searching for answers – and at the conclusion they realise that the answers are found in the creator God. For us, that is really for the risen Jesus. My prayer is that young people will see the great hope that we have in our great God.”
Days of our Youth is published by Ark House Press.