Why the Incarnation is Good News for Teenagers

My teenagers have expressed to me some of the challenges they deal with as they’re growing into adulthood. They are frustrated by all the changes, the emotional exhaustion, the social dynamics, and the pressure everyone puts on them to make sure they’re preparing adequately now in order to have a successful future. They are caught between independence and dependence and they feel like it is taking too long to get to adulthood.  

We’ve been through it before and I have my go-to encouragements, but recently God struck my heart with a new compassion because I realized I’m there too. 

My circumstances are different but I’m still caught in between.

I feel the tension between the already and the not yet, and I think I’ll never be what I should be. I can relate to the slow and sometimes disappointing process of change: saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, waiting on God to make me into who he wants me to be, not feeling at home in my own skin (or feeling too at home there) when my spirit is (or should be, depending on the day) pulling toward heaven.

Don’t you too feel the growing pains and the long path to change that seems like one step forward and two steps back? We know the frustration of day by day wondering who we really are and what we’re really becoming.
We definitely can relate. But while our shared experiences mean a lot, it’s someone else’s experience that means everything.

Jesus humbled himself and came into the world the same way we do so he could identify with us in every way. Talk about adjusting to change! He left the glories of heaven and was born surrounded by the sounds of animals bleating. He was a baby for us. Whoever said he didn’t cry must never have been around a baby. Babies cry. And this one did too. But not selfishly or angrily. Even his cries were perfect. And he grew, similar to us, but perfectly - in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. (Luke 2:52)

He was a perfect toddler for us, never experiencing the tantrums of the terrible twos. He grew on to be a perfect child, never cheating on his school work or bullying other kids. And, almost unbelievably, he was a perfect teenager, always speaking respectfully to his parents, never sneaking out at night or clamming up in rebellious apathy or looking girls up and down lustfully.

He became a perfect man, gentle and strong in all the right ways, always doing his Father’s will. Even when that bitter cup was so hard to swallow, he drank it down obediently and died a perfect death so his perfect life could be ours.

In all the growing and changing, he is faithful and meets us always where we are and takes us where we need to go. He speaks words we need to hear - words that change us, because he knows our need.

He knows because he’s omniscient, yes.

But, thankfully, he knows too because he’s incarnate - to our weakness he’s no stranger. He feels it because he lived it and grew through it all for us.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15,16)

Jesus came to walk in our shoes, facing our common frustrations and handling each one with absolute, God-satisfying perfection. He feels and understands what we’re going through because he has been through it too. We are able, then, to approach God for wisely and generously distributed grace and mercy to help us grow up into true maturity - growing in every way to be more and more like Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)