Many, many years ago, when I was a teen (OK, more like only two years), I remember having plenty of worries and questions about my life and my future. Where should I go to college? What do I want to be when I grow up? Will I be able to get a job? Maybe you can relate to some of these thoughts. So far, the teenage years are likely the most stressful times of your life.
As if that weren’t enough, it’s during the teenage years when you start to ask yourself some of the deepest and most existential questions you’ve ever considered: Who is God? Who am I? Do I belong, and if so, where? Do I even matter?
While it goes without saying that these questions aren’t new, it feels intimidating to try to answer them. When you look for an answer, the world is silent. You know you must find these answers for yourself—but not by yourself. So you turn to God. You ask Him, “Do I belong?”
And the answer is no.
I can recall back in elementary school when my parents and I would have to turn down birthday party invites because they were on the Sabbath.
Did you have a similar experience? You might remember being in middle school and hearing about tryouts for the football or basketball team. But most games were on the Sabbath, so you didn’t go.
Your school friends might be doing all sorts of things, but you knew those things weren’t for you. You know you’re called out and set apart to be different. You recall God wants you to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17 2 Corinthians 6:17Why come out from among them, and be you separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
American King James Version×).
The author of Psalm 119 wrote he was a “stranger in the earth” for his desire to keep God’s word (Psalms 119:17-19 Psalms 119:17-19  Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live, and keep your word.
 Open you my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not your commandments from me.
American King James Version×). Maybe you’ve felt like a stranger among some of your non-Church friends because of your beliefs. There are just things you don’t see eye-to-eye on.
Beyond this, the psalmist even sang that “princes” (leaders, responsible people and role models) would gather and scheme against him out of contempt (verse 22-23). This doesn’t sound like someone who belongs. Instead of fitting in, the psalmist made God’s law his joy and most trusted advisor (verse 24).
Maybe the important question isn’t “Do I belong?” but “Where do I belong?” So you ask a new question: “Do I belong in God’s Church?”
And the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
God absolutely has a place for you in His Church—and age is not a factor! Jeremiah, for example, was sanctified by God even before his birth (Jeremiah 1:5 Jeremiah 1:5Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.
American King James Version×). God spoke directly to Jeremiah to call him as a prophet. Jeremiah was not too keen on this idea at first, saying, “I cannot speak, for I am a youth” (verse 6). God comforted Jeremiah, saying He would reveal what Jeremiah should say, and He would be Jeremiah’s deliverer (verses 7-8).
Remember that you, too, are called by God right now. This means you are set apart for a special purpose and made holy by God (1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version×). At times it can feel like you aren’t qualified or are missing something, but you are missing nothing God cannot provide or support you with.
The calling that you’ve received into the Church and to eternal life is incredibly special. God wants you to persevere and overcome in this life so that you are able to fulfill His calling. Stay close to God, and He will be with you every step of the way and help you to overcome (James 4:7 James 4:7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
American King James Version×). He does have a reward for those who remain loyal: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne” (Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
American King James Version×, see also John 14:1-4 John 14:1-4  Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.
American King James Version×). God reserves a special place in His Kingdom and Family for those who faithfully follow Him. This is the place where you truly and ultimately do belong.
However, even if you are confident you have a destiny in God’s family, at times, even in church, you still may feel like you can’t make a difference. You ask yourself: Do I matter?
Absolutely! You do matter, and you can make a difference! God tells you even though you may not feel gifted or special, you truly are. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 1 Corinthians 12:4-6  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.
American King James Version×, we see there are “diversities of gifts” (varying talents and levels of ability), but they all come from the same God who is calling you. Even when you feel you have nothing to contribute, God is still there working with you. God distributed abilities and insight to you specifically (verse 11).
Everyone in the Church has a role to play! Think of how silly it would be to draw a person’s face but forget the ears or the eyes. “If the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?” (verses 16-17).
The Church is the Body of Christ, and just like a human body, it cannot function without all its components functioning together properly. If you aren’t sure of your strengths, ask God, and He will open your eyes and help you develop them (Matthew 7:7-8 Matthew 7:7-8  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:
 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
American King James Version×).
Don’t ever think you are left out: The “members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:22 1 Corinthians 12:22No, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
American King James Version×). God is telling you that even if you do not feel important at church, you are still significant! Being a compassionate brother or sister in Christ is what matters, whether or not you always feel like a superstar.
It’s clear God has the solutions to the ultimate questions of where you belong and why you matter:
- You are not of the world, but are called and sanctified by God.
- God has a special place where you belong in His family.
- Your calling is precious, requires a great deal of perseverance to fulfill, and God is with you every step of the way.
- You matter tremendously, not only to others in the Church, but to God Himself who placed you there.
I don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing next as this article comes to a close. The big life decisions we talked about earlier—the ones I had to face two years ago, and the ones sitting before you now—aren’t going away. But I do know you have another crucial decision to make. Will you answer God’s calling and see it through to the end? Where do you want to belong?
The choice is all yours.