My period of spiritual deconstruction is behind me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still experience doubt. It’s still there, clinging to the edges of my prayers, but usually harmless enough that I can ignore them. Other times, I can’t: especially when news reports about climate change continue to prophecy doom and gloom about the future of humanity.
When I consider the long-term effects of man-made destruction to the planet, I can’t help but wonder: how long will God let us trash his creation like this? Is Jesus planning to return just when the last ice cap has melted or something? Because if humanity continues this trajectory, leading to our own eventual extinction…well, how does that fit within a divine narrative?
Reconciling Anxiety With Faith
These are the troubled thoughts of someone with anxiety disorder. I don’t believe that the human race will be extinct within a few decades, as some alarmist columnists seem to believe. I don’t believe in abandoning all hope, even if my depression wants to do otherwise. I don’t believe in letting fear be the driver of our choices, like when deciding whether to have children. I believe small choices matter in the making of bigger, more influential choices, and therefore every bottle we recycle or every scrap we compost is not in vain.
Still, fear and anxiousness are natural in this situation, I think. Humanity has experienced harsh weather and famine before, but never because of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels. That’s a uniquely modern problem. That’s one thing that makes these times we’re in truly “unprecedented.” You may be sick of hearing that word, as I am, but I can’t come up with a better substitute.
“Were You There?”
I haven’t updated my prayer journal much in the last few months. Since 2020, I’ve been praying the words of the Book of Common Prayer during my “quiet times” because otherwise all I have is just “Ugh” or “Help” or “Why?” But this morning, I actually wrote down a prayer. I asked God, “How does man-made destruction fit within a divine plan?”
But the thing is…the gospel has always been too big for anyone to fully understand. Same for creation, for sanctification, for all of it. There has always been divine mystery in our daily dealings. We have never been able to see the eternal ripple of each and every decision we make. So who is to say that our choices as humans, even the ones that damage the ozone and drive other species to extinction, can’t fit within a bigger narrative? Who is really to say that none of this makes sense?
As God said to Job in the midst of his darkest days, Were you there when I spoke everything into being? Not as a cruel taunt, but as a reminder of the facts. We don’t know everything because we’re incapable of seeing everything. To say otherwise would be guilty of arrogance.
A Mustard Seed Is Enough
A world without a maker terrifies me. It would mean that we humans are completely on our own: there is no promise of redemption, sanctification isn’t real, suffering has no meaning. Most tragically of all, it would mean that hope is dead. There are still times when I wonder if I act like it’s all real – the cross, the redemption, the hope – because I’m afraid of the alternative.
This won’t be the last time my faith clashes with reports of climate change. I doubt I’ll ever stop being deeply worried about our collective future. To an extent, that worry is good because it keeps us from being complacent. We can’t afford that.
All I have within me is a tiny little mustard seed of faith to keep going. Fortunately, Jesus says that’s enough.