Odds are, at some point in your life, you’ve found yourself in a helpless situation. Try as you might, nothing you said or did or thought made that situation any better.
These days, for progressive Christians, plenty of social justice struggles make us feel helpless: gun violence in schools, immigration, quality education, health care, civil rights, LGBTQIA+ equality, gender equality, the environment, economic inequity – the list is overwhelming.
Sadly many of those issues have seen significant setbacks in recent years. We’re losing. And when we’re losing, it’s human instinct to begin to lose hope.
What matters is what you choose to do about that hopelessness.
If your hope could use a boost, we recommend Sustaining Hope in an Unjust World: How to Keep Going When You Want To Give Up, available now from Chalice Press.
Timothy Charles Murphy’s original title for the manuscript was “Theology
for Losers.” That’s a bit harsh, but it reflects the seed for this idea: How do we keep going when we’ve lost the battle but are still engaged in the war? (Pardon the militant metaphor.)
The last half-dozen years have seen an increase in social justice protests. First were communities rallying after police shootings of African Americans, then the Women’s March, rallies responding to the Trump administration’s immigration crackdowns, Charlottesville, the March for Our Lives anti-gun-violence march, teacher walkouts, border protests, Green New Deal sit-ins, and so many more. These rallies had significant public backing but so far have made little difference on laws or policies. That can be demoralizing for those who have sacrificed, sustained injuries, become alienated from friends and family, gone to jail, paid fines, lost jobs, and lost hope.
Murphy’s goal is to keep you from losing hope. He speaks from his own experience like a trusted mentor, sharing his own battle with cancer and other setbacks to relate with readers. The former executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, a faith and social justice organization, Murphy now pastors a congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He also has taught courses on religion and politics and has worked to connect congregations, social justice, and the gospel.
“God invites us to confront creatively the horrible situations we face so that something good can come from them,” Murphy writes. “Our faithfulness to God’s vision is worth it, even if the world dismisses us as losers.”
He reminds us we are stronger when we work together. “Whether [activists] win or have a setback, it is the ability to gather and not feel isolated or powerless that helps movements for justice and healing persist over the long term.”
But you don’t have to be hitting the streets and risking arrest to appreciate Sustaining Hope in an Unjust World. If you’re struggling to keep going on any front – an important relationship, your job, your volunteer service on a nonprofit board – you can find hope in these pages. Whatever you do, hang in there, take care of yourself, and find others who share your passions. Rediscover your hope!