Hope For The Bullied

I was sitting in seventh-grade home-economics class the first time I felt the full weight of the impact of bullying. Our teacher announced that one of my classmates, Joey, had taken his own life after enduring months of ridicule and rejection. He was thirteen years old. I'm not sure I ever even said hello to him. Bullying has become a popular topic in the news lately. That's because tragic stories like Joeys are happening far too often. On the eve of a national bullying summit this year, fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer from New York killed himself after a year of cyberbullying. Phoebe Prince, age fifteen, made headlines by taking her own life after months of bullying at a new school. Her death lead to criminal prosecutions for the bullies who targeted her. In Pennsylvania, fourteen-year-old Brandon Bitner stepped in front of a tractor-trailer after writing in a suicide note that he felt unable to stop the torment that he faced for three years at school. I don't tell Joey, Jamey, Phoebe, and Brandon's stories for shock value. I'm not interested in talking about bullying because it's en vogue or because I want to drive up blog traffic. But I do want to write about it, because so many of you know what it is like to be bullied, made fun of, left out, or rejected. You've walked a mile in the shoes of these bullied teens, and you know about the kind of pain that would make someone feel like they don't want to go on. Before I go any further, let me make one thing very clear. Suicide is not the way out of the pit that you're in. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You can read more about the devastating toll it leaves behind here. But I believe that Joey, Jamey, Phoebe, and Brandon chose that route because they felt hopeless. That's why today's post is dedicated entirely to the kind of hope that can pull you through even if the bullying does not stop. Let me remind you that if you feel picked on, misunderstood, tormented, or ignored, you are in good company. Jesus Himself endured these very things, and His Word is not silent on your circumstances. In fact, the Bible is chock-full of words of hope and encouragement just for you. Here are a few verses that you can grab and hold on to for dear life in the face of what you are experiencing.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you" (Deut. 31:6). My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121:2). The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Ps. 118:6). He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).

That's just the beginning. The story of the adulterous woman found in John 7:53–8:11 will show you Jesus' heart for those who are humiliated and picked on. Matthew 5:11 and 5:43–48 reveal that you don't have to take revenge on those who persecute you, that God can take care of it. The message of the Bible is this—in the face of bullying, there is hope. Jesus loves you. He understands what you're going through, and He has promised hope for your future. These promises might feel limp in the face of the bullies who are targeting you, but let me assure you, they are not. Jesus endured bullying all the way to the cross in order to make a way for you to have abundant life (John 10:10). You can go to Him with your hurt and pain and fear and be comforted, and you can hold on to the hope that He promises better days ahead. If you are being bullied, run first to God. Pray for His help, and allow His Word to give you the strength to hold on. Once you've taken that important first step, talk to a wise Christian adult or friend about what you're facing. You might start with your youth pastor, your pastor's wife, or the wise mom of a friend. Ask them to pray for you, and enlist their help to stop the bullying. If I could go back to seventh grade knowing what I know now, I would track Joey down and tell him about the strength, help, and hope that come from Jesus, and then I'd offer him something that bullied teens everywhere long for—friendship. I can't go back to seventh grade, but I can tell you what I will never be able to tell Joey.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you" (Deut. 31:6).

Hold on!

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.