Over the course of the last couple of days, the video I've embedded below has been spread far and wide courtesy of YouTube. I watched it a few times yesterday. Yep. . . it's been there for awhile. I know the song - Sia's "Breath Me" - a song that has quite a compelling video itself. Give Jonah's video a look. . .
After watching, I had some questions and responses that are indicative of what it means to be alive, living, and growing up in today's culture.
First, I wondered if this is real. With social media allowing anyone and everyone to jockey for an audience and their 15 minutes of fame, I'm always wondering if this kind of stuff isn't just a ploy concocted by a real or self-made-online persona starved for attention. I hope it's real because I don't want to believe that there are people out there who would try to fool us on this kind of stuff. I hope it's not real because I don't want to believe that there are people out there who are getting hammered like this. Who can know for sure?
Second, real or not in this case, the story is all-too-real in all-too-many real cases. Jonah speaks for a growing percentage of our population. Granted, his story may be nuanced. But his very real pain is increasingly generic. Identity formation is a battle-field. Kids feel abandoned and alone. Bullying is real. The support systems that should be holding kids up are largely absent on non-functional. Being fourteen in today's world isn't at all like it used to be. Jonah is telling the truth. . . if not for himself, for somebody(s).
Third, I wonder if we're listening. Whether we realize it or not, we all have Jonah(s) living in our midst. And if we're hearing and seeing, we can't be like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan. Instead, we need to be like the Samaritan, willing to give of ourselves in every possible way to meet the needs of others, regardless of the cost we might incur personally. When we see him or her, we should take pity on him or her. We must be people who "go and do the same."
As I watched Jonah in his video, I couldn't help but think about my dear friends Marv Penner and Rich Van Pelt. They've devoted their lives to equipping us all to love and minister to kids like Jonah. Today, I want to say thanks to Marv and Rich for all they do to stop, look, listen, and respond as the hands and feet of Jesus. . . and for teaching us to do the same.