Hopelessness is a waste. It’s useless. It’s powerless. It’s also contagious.
Friend, if you’re feeling hopeless today you’re in good company.
For many of us, it’s been a tall order lately to try and fend off the discouragement that seems unrelenting: too many emergencies for us to keep track, too many wounds to attend to, too much bad news for our battered minds to contain, too much sadness to bear.
Sleep and rest have been hard to come by. Joy seems in short supply. Peace feels elusive. Frustration comes easily.
I get it.
If your eyes are tired from scanning the horizon and straining to see something good off in the distance, do me a favor today and take a look in the mirror.
Are you grieving? Are you angry? Are you brokenhearted? Are you pissed off? Are you at the end of your rope?
This is cause for celebration.
These are signs that your heart is still functioning. They are your soul’s alarms, telling you that things are not okay and that you are not okay because of it. It’s also confirmation of that precious ability to suffer greatly and still give a damn that has always sustained humanity in inhumane times.
Physical pain lets us know when our bodies have been damaged. Similarly, despair tells us when our spirits have incurred injury. Both are uncomfortable but necessary prompts to protect us from further damage and they demand a response. These days demand one too.
Friend, right now everything in you that is so bruised and so tender and so broken, is also the most powerful weapon on the planet. This is the catalytic fuel of revolution and you have access to it. In days when things seem to make no sense, when darkness seems to have the upper hand, when we’re overwhelmed by the prevalent wrong in our midst, we often lose hope because we wonder where the good people have gone.
This is your reminder that they haven’t gone anywhere: here you are.
So yes, you’re exhausted and you’re pushed to the brink and you feel like you’re a few bad moments from falling apart, but you’re also right where you need to be to do what is needed in this moment. You have everything you need to begin altering the planet in the only place anyone ever can: the here, now, close, small, and doable.
Whether your greatest present burden is a political reality, a relational fracture, a financial challenge, a medical diagnosis, or a personal demon—you still have great agency in the decisions you make, the attitude you approach each day with, the way you use your time and your resources to reflect whatever it is you value.
You’re here and able—and you’re also not alone.
One of the lies hopelessness tell you is that you are the only one who is not okay with this; that you are the last remaining warrior for your cause and that surrender isn’t only necessary and sensible—but inevitable. Refuse to believe this. It’s manure straight from hell’s public relations department, the worst kind of fake news designed to make you forget you belong to a sprawling community of like-hearted friends and strangers out there who share your emotional nausea at how upside-down so much seems.
As you read these very words, millions and millions of people are also similarly discouraged, convinced no one cares as much as they do that everything’s gone sideways and wondering what to do right now. I can promise you that.
You only need to get about the work of finding all those other noble but wounded souls, and fashioning a collective response: to use your gifts and hands and voices to speak into the not all rightness and make it right. Look for ways to help in your local political process; to volunteer with organizations already working there on the ground to help, feed, and heal; to leverage your circle of influence in person and on social media to do one small thing that you feel burdened to do; to create and give and support in whatever ways you are able.
The only way humanity loses is if decent human beings allow the inhumanity to win, if they stop fighting, if they resign themselves to their circumstances.
Hopelessness has never made the world more safe or just or beautiful—and it is of no use right now.
Anything else we can work with.
Anger can be redirected into something productive.
Outrage can be channeled into a useful response.
Grief can be transformed into goodness.
In days like these, nothing helpful can come from resignation.
The first step and the greatest victory today is simply in seeing that yes, good people still inhabit this place and that you are one of them—and that is where the hope is.
Take a look in the mirror, friend.
See the grief on your face.
Feel the full depth of your sadness and be encouraged by it today.
Hear your heartbeat and know that while that is happening, so much is still possible.
Keep moving, keep working, keep helping—and stop being so damn hopeless.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.