When Gwen and I were travelling around the Poconos last weekend we came across a General Store in Lackawaxen. It had a big sign out front: “We trust in God. We trust in guns. We trust in Trump.“
We started complaining about the state of the country, but then we basically just changed the subject. We’re sick of it. I, in particular, am surprisingly sick of it. I have seen politics as a “hobby” since I was in high school – history in the making and all that, but what is going on now is so broken, I can’t even get serious on that level, anymore.
This presidential campaign is pounding us. How about you? Are you sick of it yet? The proportions of its nastiness and untruthfulness are so huge that I think people might finally wake up and realize that the world is a sin sick place. It has gotten so bad our general denial might be upended! Our leaders are helping Jesus out. We might finally get to the place Paul hopes people will get:
Everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:13-16
But I can’t help but think that many people will actually wake up and seek out alternativity. That’s where Jesus is waiting. There is an alternative: true life in Christ, a new life built together by his followers. I’ve always been serious about that, but now the country’s leaders are making me real serious.
I was singing this old song this morning that answered the longing of Jeremiah as he lamented the condition of Israel in his day — his country was a wreck. “Is there no balm in Gilead for my suffering people?” he cried. The song answers:
There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my hope again.
Jesus the balm.
I do get discouraged. I am not sure what will be left of our safe empire in a few years. I believe I will be fine, but what of all the unsuspecting, ill-financed, debt-ridden people? The children! What about the poor of the Philadelphia region? The prospect of big changes is daunting!
When we used to sing There is a Balm, we thought it was funny to sing “there is a bomb in Gilead” in honor of Israel’s nukes and the ongoing Palestinian oppression that blows up every few years. That’s not so funny these days, since there is a bomb in New York City and New York’s country is dropping bombs on families in Syria adding to the refugee crisis that has created the most instability the world has known in decades. I get discouraged.
But then the Holy Spirit revives my hope again. Sin happens every day – and will keep happening inside us and out. We’re sick. But our work in the Lord is not in vain. My wounds are not permanent. Our sins could not keep Jesus in the grave. I still know we are the alternative, and we need to be: a circle of hope wherever God takes us.