I spent two hours late Sunday evening into early Monday trying to help a teenage girl who chatted in to needhim.org. She was dead inside, hopeless, utterly defeated. A believer in Jesus but unwilling to engage life on His terms or budge in any way, all she wanted to do was sleep.
Usually, I'm able to provide people like her with enough encouragement to seed a glimmer of hope inside them, then send them off with optimism inside me that they are better off than when they began the chat and have directions to a better future.
The help you can provide to people like this comes in many forms, and it's not one size fits all: a sympathetic and listening ear, a description of God's love for them, resources to help them cope with their current issues, relevant Scripture passages, testimonials of other people who have encountered similar problems, wisdom gleaned from experiencing many years of life, maybe even just a fresh perspective from someone who is independent but also on their side. And, of course, prayer. When one avenue fails, I move to another, then another until I sense the person in crisis believes their state can improve and has a plan to see that it does.
I didn't have a good feeling after my chat Sunday night. The only thing that gave me hope after she abruptly disconnected was that her stone-cold resistance had turned from responses like "it's useless, I'm tired, I tried that" to "I don't know."
What I detected - and I've seen this increasingly since COVID - was a person isolated from face-to-face interactions with people, tied to her phone, and deeply mistrusting of others. So many people no longer trust authorities such as politicians, religious leaders, health professionals, and other institutions. They're left to their own "stinky thinkin'."
Without change, what happens inside a person like this?
We all know what happens. We see news of it played out far too frequently. And we saw it again Monday in Nashville. A young woman, fully armed, entered a Christian K-6 school and opened fire. A few decades ago, we couldn't imagine behavior like this. But it's symptomatic of a culture that has turned its back on God.
Isolation of people who are free to wander the internet without accountability has become the devil's favorite playground, where Satan and his minions concoct evil schemes and convince vulnerable and lost people to carry them out. How else can you explain such heinous acts?
What's an onlooker to do?
Keep a watchful eye around you. Rather than avoiding them - which translates to casting them aside - proactively engage the isolated, despondent, and depressed people around you. And those who are so self-conflicted they've become confused about their gender. I'm not a clinician, but it seems to me there's a fine line between spiritual darkness and mental illness. And there's a ready solution for spiritual darkness. His name is Jesus. Don't assume others know about Him and what He did for them. Often they don't.
Your intervention could save these individuals from self-destruction - and rescue a few dozen innocent children who can help save the next generation. We're losing our way as a people one individual at a time, and we can make up lost ground in the same fashion. We can and we must.