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The Strength of Youth

A summary of the address delivered by Rev. H. Hoeksema on the evening of Aug. 21 at the Convention of the Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies

 

“World War II is over.  War, however, is not over.  The anti-Christian power will be destroyed by the breath of the mouth of our Lord.  Therefore, we need to be strong.  Our subject is based on the presupposition that youth is strong”.   These were the opening words of Rev. Hoeksema’s speech on “The Strength of Youth” at our inspirational meeting in Hughes Park, in Hudsonville, Michigan.

The speaker went on to say that there is something peculiar about the strength of youth distinguishing it from the strength of the adult.  From the Old Testament we learn that the beauty of the young man is his strength.  John writes to the young men because the word of God abides in them

What does the strength of youth consist of?  Why is it needed?  How can it be cultivated?

There are different types of strength and scripture speaks of it in various terms.  In the passive sense there is strength to bear, endure, suffer.  It is also used in the sense of living energy, such as the electric current in a wire or ray, and brute animal strength controlled by mere animal instinct.  But the climax of the types of power is the strength found only in man.  Man has skill and ability.  You find skill in all about you.  In the airplane, edifice, sculpture, atom bomb.  Brute skill and strength are combined in man who stands at the pinnacle of God’s creation.  We may also speak of different aspects of strength from the point of view of the man who bears it.  There is the physical strength of a strong heart, supple limb, clear intellect, the power to grasp problems and find solutions.  Man has psychological, natural strength.

There is also another distinction.  That is, between natural and spiritual strength.  Man is not only soul and body who lives a life in connection with the present world but he is also spirit, related to God, adapted to dwell in covenant friendship with Him.  Sin has changed this relation not into weakness but into just the opposite of friendship.  Through Christ, not through us, this relationship has been restored by the power of grace.

We do not belittle youth’s physical strength.  We do not like to see young men and women without natural strength, listless.  Rather we rejoice when they lift up their heads and walk with life, hope, and courage shining from their eyes.  But the point is this—all that strength means nothing if it were not for that other power, spiritual strength.  Natural power has no meaning if it is not sustained by spiritual power.  If there is no grace of God all strength is pressed into the service of the devil.  Youth is a period of development in natural strength of soul and body.  In this connection we mention three characteristics: Youth is abounding, youth is impetuous, youth is not mature.  Also from a spiritual aspect life is characterized by this threefold view.

Youth is abounding.  Energy develops faster than it can be used.  There is always a surplus.  We cannot make up the time wasted in childhood or adolescence.  “Remember thy creator in the days of thy YOUTH”.

Youth is impetuous.  It is not suffering or enduring, but wants to be active in societies, radio, Sunday School.  Youth wants to fight rather than suffer.

Youth is not mature or stable.  Reality teaches us that the temptations of the flesh, the world, and the devil are very frequently peculiarly adapted to overcome the youthful Christian.

We must be instructed in spiritual knowledge.  Societies serve a very important purpose.  In society we give ourselves in mutual instruction.  Our societies should never become mere social clubs.  Physically, mentally, spiritually we must be trained in practical warfare and use that strength in the world, in spiritual warfare.  Our strength is sustained and supplied through the channel of constant prayer.  That strength is not in us but in Christ.  God will give His spirit and grace to such as ask of Him.  A young man or woman thus trained will be strong and remain unmoved.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.