COVID-19 and young Christians: How well have we weathered this storm?
Youths aged 18-25 fared the worst in emotional health during the Circuit Breaker, according to findings from our recent survey which aimed to understand how Christians in Singapore are coping with COVID-19.
They are also the most vulnerable in their walk with God, with this age group most likely to say their walk with God is now slightly or much worse.
The survey was conducted via SurveyMonkey links sent primarily via Thir.st and Salt&Light social media platforms. More than 1,600 responses were collected.
Although I am slightly older than the age range, I can empathise with why 18-25-year-olds are the most impacted.
Besides the fact that COVID-19 may well be the first watershed moment in their faith journey, it also doesn’t help that they are at an age where their future is uncertain.
The 18-25-year-olds make up a huge part of the graduating cohorts. And with the economy negatively impacted by COVID-19, it won’t be easy to find a job during this period. I suspect that this contributes to the increased level of anxiety among the age group.
The survey results also affirm this: Students and the unemployed are ranked the lowest in terms of spiritual and emotional states during this period.
With these two factors in mind, it is no wonder why younger Christians are more affected negatively than most. It is a trying period where their beliefs are shaken.
“Is God still good? Can I still trust in Him? How do I respond?”
These are some questions that they have to truly wrestle with for the first time.
However, this is not to say only young people have difficulties coping with COVID-19.
While young adults are more susceptible because of their circumstances, the survey showed that there is a correlation between one’s spiritual health and one’s emotional health across all age groups.
That is to say: the better an individual’s walk with God is, the better they are at coping with the crisis.
Hence, more than external circumstances, our internal walk with God plays a bigger role as to how we fare in tumultuous times like this.
I was at my church leadership camp a few years ago when my senior pastor emphasised the importance of building a cell group church and not a church with cell groups.
“One day, we may not be able to gather physically as a congregation. So we must be prepared that church life can still continue even without a centralised location,” he shared.
That was also the period when my church started implementing blackout services: services were completely held online for one weekend of every year.
I remember being in awe when I heard about this. My pastor wasn’t just thinking and preparing us for the here and now – he had his sights set on the future.
And who knew that the projected reality would come to pass so soon?
But more than just an admiration for the foresight my church leadership team had, that session reminded me of the end times. And it got me thinking about my own faith: Am I prepared for the worst to come?
This is not the first global crisis the world has experienced – and it probably won’t be the last either. If that’s the case, we should view COVID-19 as a marker of how each of us is doing in our current faith journey.
How we respond to the crisis today reveals how prepared we are to have our faith tested.
So the question is, how are you doing now?
It’s okay if you’re finding it hard to trust God in this season. Romans 5:3-4 says that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
My encouragement to you is to hold on. Your faith is being moulded so don’t give up (James 1:2-4).
If you’re doing well, help others along as you continue to build on your faith.
As the saying goes: In peacetime, prepare for war.
COVID-19 is a reminder that we cannot take things for granted. Wherever we may be feeling right now, let us continue to build our foundation in Christ that we may withstand any storm that comes.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
The Circuit-Breaker Check-In Survey remains open. Check in to help us better understand how Singaporean Christians are doing during this season.
For more insights into the survey results, read:
Part 2: 5 lessons for Church leaders
THINK + TALK
- How are you coping in this Circuit Breaker?
- How has your walk with God been?
- What are some ways you can build your faith in this season?