It’s all hopeless, Thank God

There are no easy problems left to solve. Everything is so complicated with no clear way forward.

Income inequality

Climate change

Hunger

Poverty

Human trafficking

and those are just the first five I thought of.

And I am convinced, we are all wrong about almost everything. All of us have a lot that we get wrong. We have faulty memories. We get dates mixed up, and names mixed up.  None of us remember the same event the same way. (I’m sure it was at the house with the circle drive. We have never lived in a house with a circle drive. Yes we did. No, no.)

We have unrealistic plans, for who we are going to marry. If we are going to marry. What our careers will look like. How successful we will be. How fabulous we’ll look at 25 or 50.

Our theology is a mess, Some of us are very, very sure we’re right. Which is why there are a billion and three types of protestants. Some of us are a little fuzzy about the details and the rest of us never give God much thought at all.

To quote Anne Lamott, “It is all hopeless. Even for a crabby optimist like me, things couldn’t be worse.” *

Honestly if you have even a bit of sense, you realize it is all hopeless.

And then if you are fortunate you realize that the fact that it is all hopeless is the most freeing and comforting thing you know.

It took me a long time to figure that out. So I had years of guilt because I didn’t give money to every charity that asked. Years of guilt because I didn’t care deeply about every cause and problem that truly deserves to be cared deeply.Years of guilt that I didn’t work harder to try to make the world a more peaceful and just place. There are the marches I didn’t go to, the letters to Congress I didn’t write, the disaster relief trips I didn’t go on, the soup kitchens where I didn’t serve. On and on and on.

Of course no one can do all that. You can’t even keep track of everything you’re supposed to care about, let alone actually care about it all, let alone actually do enough or something or anything.

It’s overwhelming.

For goodness sake, I have trouble vacuuming my carpet without guilt. I feel badly the carpet is dirty. Then I feel guilty because I have a carpet and that I have a house that has carpet . I feel guilty I can afford a vacuum cleaner. And that I have reliable electricity.  And that I have time and energy to worry about the state of my carpet. It can be overwhelming, paralyzing, hopeless.

It’s all hopeless.  I can barely fix dinner some days, how can I possibly fix China’s economy?

It’s all hopeless. I can’t fix it.

Fortunately when I realized that all the problems left to solve are impossibly complex and that we’re all wrong about almost everything, that took the pressure off.

One day I realized, I’m not the world’s Savior.  The problems are too big and I’m too flawed.

What a relief! I’m not the world’s Savior.I’m not anybodies Savior. I can’t even save myself.  In fact, I could use a Savior along with the rest of the world.

The whole thing isn’t up to me. I’m not the world’s Savior.

Thankfully, there is a Savior, for the world and for me. What I have to do is follow his lead. Do what I am able to do the best that I can.

I do what I can do.

You do what you can do.

Bill Gates does more than both of us, but that’s okay because that’s what Bill Gates is supposed to do.

Every problem, every problem has smart dedicated people who are working on solving it. We divide the world’s woes and sorrows among ourselves. Lord knows there is plenty of trouble for everyone. Each of us shoulders what we can. Each of us is called to our own particular work. Each of us following the lead of Jesus.

Sometimes we tell each other this to remind ourselves how to live

Go out into the world in peace;
            Have courage;
            Hold on to what is good;
            Return no one evil for evil;
    Strengthen the fainthearted;
    Support the weak,
    Help the suffering;
    Honor all people;
Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Left to us, it is absolutely hopeless. But it is not up to us. We’re not in charge. Thanks be to God.

 

 

From Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, page 11.

 

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