I think that when serving, often times one of the first things to go is hope. We lose hope that people and situations can change, we lose hope that people who experience injustice will receive justice, we lose hope in this broken world, and we ultimately lose hope in God and his ability to change the world.
Frankly, just from my brief experience of living in the city, there seems to be a lot to give up on. For example, at the day camp I work at, there are a lot of tough situations with the kids. Some of the kids don’t have enough food at home, others are growing up in broken homes, and still other kids are abused, whether it’s physically or emotionally. Working with these kids, and seeing how profoundly these pains have affected their lives, it’s hard for me not to lose hope. It’s especially difficult to realize that though we can love them well, our presence might not have an effect on their lives, and the pain they’re experiencing will probably continue to occur even after we finish the program and move on with our lives. It’s hard to believe that we can change anything, and it’s hard to see or believe that even God can change their lives and better their situations.
I recently attended, along with the other BUP students, a rally in inner harbor.
During this rally, the community came together to stand in solidarity with the 2 people who were tragically killed in police shootings in the past week. I’ve never been to a rally before, and the experience was both heartbreaking and uplifting. It was heartbreaking to realize the fact that the reason the community was rallying was because of the injustices of this world that shouldn’t be happening. It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of the injustices other people had committed against members of the community, and how some of the activists had fought so hard but had seen so little change. It was heartbreaking to see the smirks of onlookers as the participants of the rally marched to the police department headquarters. But it was also uplifting to see the community united by common values, ready to stand and fight for a cause. It was uplifting to see some of the passerby stop by and listen and learn from the rally, and it was uplifting to see people with so many ideas, all desperate and united to demand change.
In the midst of confronting the realities that the kids face, and the reality that so many people in America are oppressed, I’ve lost a lot of hope in God and his work. I understand and believe that God is powerful, and that he loves each and every one of the kids, the oppressed, even the oppressors, more than any of us ever could, but in the midst of everything, those beliefs I hold don’t feel real. It’s so hard to reconcile the brokenness of the world and how so much hurt and pain is inflicted on people and the power and goodness of God. I know that there are people out there who care, and who are trying to change the world, but a lot of times it feels like it’s too little, too late. Most of the time when I lose hope however, I end up finding it again soon after. One reason I can hope is the fact that I’m not the first or only one seeing and noticing the brokenness of the world. since Jesus’ time, many different people groups have been hurting and oppressed, and God’s people were able to do something about it. So many social justice movements were envisioned and led by christians. God hasn’t failed to mobilize his people to do good in the world in the past, and He won’t fail now. Also, talking to members of the community is so helpful. They have amazing stories of how God has moved in their lives, as well as the lives of others, and these stories can help restore the hope that was lost. Finally, reminding ourselves that God isn’t doing things and changing the world for us, and he doesn’t move on our time is helpful. Sometimes, change can take a generation to see, and just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. God does care, and He uses us for his plan, not the other way around. Even when I lose hope, I still keep on trying and fighting, because I believe in a God who has already overcome the world, a God who truly wants good for everyone and who has the power to do it.