The Standard October 29, 2020
Most of us are up to our necks in political flyers. For months our mailboxes, physical and virtual, have been full of them and we cannot seem to escape the profusion of campaign ads on the television and on social media. It feels like every four years we hear a dominant chorus that this election cycle has been more negative and nasty than any previous one. From both sides we encounter doomsday predictions about what will happen if the other side wins. It is possible that our immersion into the prevalent end-of-the-world rhetoric will cause us to fear that the sky is falling or at least that there is little hope, given the selfish and possibly unethical nature of far too many politicians and political operatives. How can we fight feeling soured on the future and instead become more hopeful?
Many of us need to take a step back to remember that no candidate will provide us with all of the right answers or solutions. No person can be completely wise and selfless. Even the best government system in the world, whatever you believe that is, cannot provide everyone with absolutely fulfilling lives. People will fail us and systems will let us down, at least in some small ways, but God never will. Scripture advises us to adjust our focus.
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” (Psalm 118:8-9)
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – he remains faithful forever.” (Psalm 146:3-6)
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in humans, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. ‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its root by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
Perhaps times such as these, this current climate fraught with deep polarization, will point us towards the only trustworthy source of joy and peace.
As Eugene Peterson writes in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, “People submerged in a culture swarming with lies and malice feel as if they are drowning in it: they can trust nothing they hear, depend on no one they meet. Such dissatisfaction with the world is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship. The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God. A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.” Lord, please set us on a path of wholeness in Christ and bestow on us an appetite for receiving and giving grace.