Why young men suffering gives us hope

I’m often perplexed why young men get so excited about some of the adventures we offer them. As one example, every three years we offer a trip to canoe a circuit of frigid lakes in the damp far reaches of British Columbia. The guys are required to schlep the canoes and seven days-worth of food and gear up muddy trails while the mosquitoes treat us like a human happy hour, “Drinks on us!” We assure the young men that after the mosquitoes have their fill many of them will have faces that resemble whoopee cushions, but they still choose to come. If warmth is to be had it is only found on the other side of a pile of wood that must be perpetually chopped. Their major source of protein … SPAM; the meat product of all great risk takers. Young men are willing to do laborious chores there, the easiest of which back at home they would creatively and desperately seek to elude, and they are willing to suffer deprivations that would cause a fountain of complaints to whine from their mouths if it was mom asking it of them. All of this is sandwiched like cramped bookends between 2 days of solid driving in a van full of un-showered adolescent males.

We never have trouble filling this trip.

Though we have good reason to lament the cancerous culture we have allowed to grow up around us in which young men sit tied like Odysseus to their gaming consoles following the siren song of their video games into a life of perpetual purposeless adolescence, we nevertheless have better reason to hope as well. As this trip shows us, young men, like generations before them, are not only willing but eager to follow godly men into a life of hardship and adventure. What a wonderful analogy and training ground experiences like this offer to show these young men the great adventure that our Lord Jesus has called us to; a journey that in our carnal thinking makes no sense whatsoever, but the vision of which, when cast before young men, produce deeply committed world changers. Men like Jim Elliott willing to wisely “give up what they cannot keep to gain what they cannot lose.” Men with not only willing, but also with eager hearts keen to experience the deep joy of sacrifice and suffering for something far greater than what the world tells us we should desire.

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