Back to Top

Staying Hopeful in the Time of Climate Emergency

I am a climate career professional - someone who works on climate advocacy and climate justice as a job, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. It is my dream job. As part of my job, I work on mobilizing Christians to take faithful action in the public sphere in response to the climate crisis through storytelling, resourcing, opportunities to petition legislators on specific bills, and non-violent direct action. Almost every time I’m invited to speak on climate change, the question of how to stay hopeful emerges. But by God’s grace, I find that each time I open my mouth to answer, God has taught me something new about how hope works.

The more I involve my whole self into this work, the more hopeful I become.

By some measure, I think this question of hope is a question that we all live out, and I don’t want to pretend that I have all the answers. One thing I have found to be true, however, is that the more I involve my whole self into this work, the more hopeful I become. It seems contradictory, but this is what I’ve experienced. Scripture tells us that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). Barack Obama said that the best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Both statements illustrate how hope is not a steady dreamy feeling or wish, but an active, iterative and effort-laden spiritual discipline. Hope is a spiritual muscle which grows stronger with practice. 

Hope is a spiritual muscle which grows stronger with practice. 

What are the practices which produce hope? The biblical scholar Walter Brueggeman reminds us that the basis of hope is the reality that God is a real character and effective agent in the world. To me then, that means hope comes from taking the time every day to listen to God’s voice to discern where God’s spirit is already at work, and then to partner with this living God and participate in the ministry of reconciliation.

Then partner with this living God and participate in the ministry of reconciliation.

I have seen God at work in grassroots communities and cities all over the US who are building climate resilience plans and making a tangible difference in the lives of everyday people with an environmental justice lens, through projects like the Marin City People’s Plan to prevent destructive flooding, organizing for pesticide awareness in Gonzales, California, and programs like Climate Ready Boston. This kind of commitment, zeal and real change at the community level is nothing if not hopeful. I want my work to be informed by and be held accountable to the ongoing work that God is already doing within these communities on the ground level.

My community provides me spiritual nourishment, joy and hope that sustains.

In fact, in my experience, I have found that organizing for climate has more than anything helped me find and become deeply rooted in such a community of gospel-centered believers who desire to put their faith into action for social justice -- a community that provides me spiritual nourishment, joy and hope that sustains. I am immensely grateful for the relationships I’ve formed being part of this movement, for my spiritual brothers and sisters who have become some of my closest confidants. I think that in the struggle of making it possible to realize the beloved community for all people, we ourselves have begun tangibly creating that beloved community in the process. And when there is true relationship, real communion -- everything changes. Faithful climate action isn’t a chore, nor a side thing, nor even a professional thing anymore -- it’s a way of life, one that is vibrant with culture, color, music, every form of creativity out there. Working for climate justice within Christian community allows for me to bring my whole self to the game and allows me to see that working towards justice is a core part of discipleship. 

Here is one last dimension of hope I’ll share. I have begun to see over the years that climate discipleship has required of me much sacrifice, and boldness, forgiveness, and renewed commitments to love. It comes from blood, sweat and tears pouring over this work and disagreements with the best ways to approach it, with countless conversations on what is just and equitable and how to work as a team, how much work needs to be done and so forth. Yet this process gives me so much hope, because I see that throughout the process God has been shaping me to become more like Christ. This gives me hope because I feel, at all times, in the midst of personal spiritual transformation that is lasting and true. Working alongside my brothers and sisters in the movement, I know that there is communal transformation happening too -- the realizing of beloved community. 

Behold, I am making all things new, Jesus says. That is hope against hope. I invite you into the fold.

Don't miss the other blogs in this series 'Growing Weary of Doing Good.'  

Photo by Valeriy Andrushko on Unsplash


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.