I had another subject in mind (indeed, already written), and yet this one has over taken it – if not in importance, at least in urgency, and if not in urgency, at least in timeliness.
And so I shall write about the American elections.
I work in a hospital, and hospitals have a bad ‘rap’ for being ‘political’ places – institutes filled with unions and hierarchy and Leftist whisperings.
Perhaps this is true in the case of internal politics – but it is definitely not the case (for me anyway) when it comes to external, or American, politics.
Hospitals, like many other workplaces, rely a great deal on ‘keeping the peace’ and this (apparently) means not talking too deeply about religion, politics or personal ethics.
Yet since the election of the new US president, politics has become very easy to talk about – because we’re all on the same side.
An extremely incredulous and slightly fearful side.
It’s interesting, how politics – which can be so divisive – can also create such unity. And not just in the workplace, but almost everywhere.
We all appear to be on the same side now.
If we won’t admit to fear or apprehension over the outcome of the US elections, most of us will at least admit to outrage.
And how far is that from apprehension? And how far is apprehension from fear?
Fear changes people. It forces us to put aside our differences, and discover what’s really important. It’s no surprise that the Church is growing in areas of intense persecution. It’s no mistake that out of historical periods of immense heartbreak have come stories of selfless sacrifice. We don’t need to look too deep into the various holocausts to realise that.
Our world seems headed towards fear at the moment. Towards even more suffering. What the future holds for America, for all of us, only God knows. It looks grim, I’m not afraid to admit that.
Grim can be helpful
But I’m also not afraid to propose that grim is okay.
Evil and darkness should not exist. They are wrong, and we should take every opportunity to vanquish them. And yet, they do exist, and God does use them for His glory.
In fact, He must use them for His glory. That’s the kind of God He is. Sovereign. Nothing goes to waste. Not one life, not one blood splatter, not one tear.
It’s not wistful thinking to ponder what glorious events God might have in plan for America, for the world. What beautiful paths He has traced out. In the midst of darkness there is hope.
What darkness does
Because God uses darkness.
Because darkness pushes people towards God.
Because darkness forces people to do great things. Things for God. Things for His kingdom.
Darkness, after all, reveals light. We don’t need darkness to see light of course, but it does make it that bit easier to see it when we are lost in shades of grey.
By helping us see clearly, darkness forces us to choose a side. And that is good. Because there is nothing worse than being stuck in middling greyness. In Nazi Germany, no one was ambivalent about Hitler – to use an oft repeated example of depravity.
The presence of darkness also makes us tired. Tired of the constant battle between right and wrong good and evil – in ourselves and in the world. It makes us long for the day that Jesus will return and make all things new.
Evil also presses deep concerns onto our hearts. It brings subjects like fear and sacrifice and ‘what do we actually want out of life’ and ‘what matters above all’ into everyday conversation. Historically it is only ‘the religious’ (in any sense of the word) who talk habitually about death and life and love and meaning. In catastrophe everyone talks about them – and that is a blessing. Because how can one talk about life without talking about The Life? Or death, without mentioning the One who conquered death?
Pray for us all
And so, only time will tell, but my prayer is that the US elections may unite more than they divide. That they would force us to talk about deep things, to take sides, to make sacrifices, to disrupt and reshape our comfortable Western security and draw many, many people to God.
Trump is the 45th US President. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th. Lincoln was extremely unpopular during his term and was in fact executed before the end of his president-ship. His legacy includes the abolition of slavery and several famous speeches. I think we can still treasure both of these today.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves… Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history.”