Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Four Truths against Hopelessness

The world in which we live is overwhelming, both vast and minute – as vast and minute as we are, halfway between mitochondria and the Milky Way.

Sometimes in the dark, when our fears crush us awake, it all feels hopeless. We wonder if anything that we do really matters, if the work we do will really make any difference. We pray questions in shy voices, hoping for an anointing like that of Samuel, as clear and loud as a voice in the night.

While some are blessed with unblinking visions and clear goals, the rest of us are left to fend with what we know, truths like these four that help us know why we are here and why we should continue.

1. The world is not as it should be.

To believe this truth, you need imagination. Our world is no Eden. There are wars where there need not be wars, children dying of preventable diseases. Discrimination and oppression rob people of equal opportunities. Our earth is being spent. This truth reminds us that these things should not be, that we should not tolerate these things to be. If the created earth was perfect, then the chaos that we live in is discordance, rotten as only the sweetest fruit can rot.

2. The world is not as it could be.

This truth calls for a rejection of fatalism and the embracing of a bold belief that things not only should change, but that they can. It is one thing to mourn destruction ravaged on people and on landscapes – quite another to take part in the active, hopeful fight against it. This truth says change is possible. We may never eliminate poverty, but why let that keep us from reducing its effects? We may not be able to reverse the destruction we’ve caused our environment, but why not slow further degradation? We may never end wars, but why let that keep us from creating communities of peace?

3. I can work to make the world more as it should be.

The third truth moves the passive (“The world can be made better”) to the active (“I can make the world better”) and so moves us from objects to actors with responsibility for how the world may change. In some ways this truth is the boldest and the most frightening. Individual agency is a powerful thing to learn. What it means is that, whether your work is creating order or shaking up that order, you can be a part of the sort of Kingdom building that brings us closer to the world that God intended.

4. I should work to make the world more as it should be.

The final truth requires us to believe that we are all stakeholders in the process of transforming our world. Action is not only a possibility, it is a moral obligation. But it need not be an oppressive one. In fact, when I envision a better world, believe that this world is possible and, further, that I can be a part of its realization – I feel a purpose of being that makes this final truth a joy. I am not saying that we will bring about Heaven on Earth – we will not. What I am saying is that hope can be found in understanding the world and our place in it. Hope that what we do matters, that we are actors in a work that started long before us and will continue long after us.

You matter, is what I am trying to say. You are here for a reason. The world can (and should) be better and you can (and should) be a part of making it so. This is God’s will being done, on earth as it is in Heaven. It is Kingdom coming. It is Kingdom come.


  1. So true and when we enter into the active role - while what we do is often a mystery that unfolds on a daily basis - the reality is there is a delight in being part of the wonder of redeeming our world by the Spirit of God and bringing Hope to places where it has been lost!! The delight of laughter in one who was hopeless is priceless!

  2. Thanks for this one, Kate. It speaks a lot of truth.