The other night I watched the presidential debate. I have watched many debates before, but only a few minutes into listening to these two “so called” leaders arguing back and forth, I felt something very different than at any other time in the past elections. I felt despair. Despair is the complete loss or absence of hope. Several times during the debate my mind drifted into a visualization of past presidents. I wondered what Abe Lincoln would be saying if he was standing on that honorable platform. I pictured our first president, George Washington, looking into the camera and inspiring the republic to unite in the pursuit of liberty. I longed for a day when a leader like this would arise and guide America with a renewed spirit of freedom.No matter how many times I heard the phrase “stronger together” or “make America great again”, I just couldn’t shake the despair. And the longer I watched, the worse this feeling became. I am invested in this country. I have voted in every single election since I was able to in 1996. It is still a great nation to live in, but there is something different, utterly scary, surfacing upon the horizon. It is a new age for our nation, and my fear is that it will not be kind to those who hold the ancient values of Lincoln and Washington.
My fear is not for myself. I have been given every opportunity to achieve the American dream that our forefathers spoke about. I grew up in a time when most of our forefather’s values were still held by the majority of Americans. But the despair enters my heart when I realize that I have children who will inherit our decisions. I have despair, not so much for me and my pursuit of the American dream, but for the crippled chaos we are placing our children in.
Towards the end of the debate, I could hear my five year old daughter crying upstairs in her room. She had awakened from a nightmare and was scared. I left the comfort of my couch and walked upstairs into her room and hugged her and told her that everything was okay. I knelt down beside her as her eyes were slowly opening and closing, fighting sleep, yet giving into the heaviness of her eyelids. I felt the need to sing to her as she was drifting back to sleep, knowing that a song can sooth the soul when there is turmoil. My mind raced through all the different possible songs I could sing, and a few seconds later I found myself singing softly: “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” As I sung about how God has the “itty bitty baby” in His hands, the peace of God overwhelmed my heart because God was speaking something profound through this song: God has always been in control and He will still be in control in the future.
As I walked back down the stairs after finishing the ninety year old American spiritual, my mind flashbacked to some of the worst times and places to live as a follower of God. I pictured the plight of the Hebrews, who, for four hundred years (ca. 1800-1400 B.C.), were cruelly enslaved by the Egyptians. My mind fast-forwarded ahead to the latter years of 700 B.C., when the Assyrians captured and led away many people, including the Jews, to become slaves. This evil empire was notorious for cutting off limbs, gouging out eyes, burning little boys and girls alive and even hanging the heads of victims from tree branches throughout all the cities they conquered as a testimony of their brutality (they were the modern day ISIS). Then, I envisioned what it would have been like in the A.D. 60s, when the Roman Emperor Nero fed Christians to wild animals and crucified them. Possibly worst of all, Nero impaled these Jesus followers on a pole, poured oil on them and lit them on fire so that he could walk through his garden at night. Wow…life was difficult for most people who have lived in our ancient past.
Then my heart was convicted by how corrupt the purest religion on the planet could become as I imagined how the Crusades (began in 1095) morphed into a blood-thirsty conquest for power and riches. Many of these Crusaders were found to have raped women and killed anyone in their path who might have possessed any personal treasure. After this, I felt a punch to the gut as I thought about how during the Spanish Inquisition (began in 1231), the Holy Catholic Church executed thousands of people who were seeking after God, but were branded as heretics because their beliefs didn’t match up with their man-made traditions.
All of these flashbacks were happening in the course of just a few seconds. It is a fascinating reality that the mind can think through a myriad of ideas within a split second. This was happening to me.
Then my mind shifted to the 1940s, when the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler sent millions of Jews to their death at concentration camps. Next, I saw the face of Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, who killed over 45 million people in a little over four years in the late 1950s in the name of national progress. Finally, I could see the small country of Cambodia on a map, with the mugshot of the 1970s dictator Pol Pot, who was responsible for the death of almost one million people who were not valued in the eyes of the government. A few other recent dictators like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-un flashed through my mind, and I could feel the despair once again.
As I stopped at the bottom of our stairs, my inner spirit was shaken. I was gripped by the utter evil of so many leaders of history. Most countries, over the course of her existence, will experience the great tragedy of allowing a leader to rise up who will selfishly change the course of that nation. Because of this leader, the nation will spiral down into the mud of desolation and will never be the same. This thought made me thankful for the geographical grace that God has granted to me to live in a country that has been led by men and women who have honored God throughout the centuries by protecting the rights and the dignity of humanity.
As I laid my head down to sleep that night, I couldn’t help but ask this question to God: Is the end for our nation near? Is this part of Your ultimate plan to humble the great prideful giant that is called the United States of America? God did not give me an audible answer that night, but I felt His answer in my soul. And even though it was the answer I feared, I fell asleep quickly that night as my head hit the pillow. Why? Because I believe in the sovereignty of God. I believe that God has the world in His hands and I believe because of this, He has my family, and my church, and my entire existence in His hands. And He has your life in His hands too.
Do you believe in the sovereignty of God? Do you passionately trust in the God who is always in control? Do you live out your faith in ways that honor God? As you pray, you teach yourself that God is the leader of your life. As you pray, you realize that you need to seek guidance from the One in heaven. No matter who is in control of our government, our hearts do not despair for long, because we believe that “in His hand are the depths of the earth” (Psalm 95:4).