If my post title has you scratching your head, bear with me…I’ll explain soon enough.
Faced with the prospect of an aggressively Statist president & an obsequious Senate, it would be all too easy to mentally (and legislatively) give up, turn off the lights and hide from the world until 2016. But what would that gain us? Can you imagine this Administration with no impediments whatsoever? I can, and the phrase about how “Absolute Power corrupts…” floats readily to mind.
No, we are called to find hope even in times of darkness, and there is reason to hope.
Despite the lopsided electoral college results, keep in mind it was the result of President Obama winning several razor-thin, winner-take-all victories. And the final tally was 51%-47%: hardly a mandate, no matter how you slice the data. It’s not good, but it’s not the darkest times our country has faced, either.
Back during the Civil War, people despaired on both sides of the divide. The bloody face of battle came to our nation’s doorsteps, leaving many to wonder how or if we’d ever recover. One such man was the great American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
With the war still raging in 1864, Longfellow (already depressed and in constant physical pain) had matters made worse by having his son return home with severe wounds received in the fighting. Additionally, he was still grieving the loss of his second wife, Fanny, who’d died in ’61 following a freak accident in their home.
Any and all hope, for both himself and his country, seemed lost.
Which was why it is noteworthy that on Christmas Day of that year, he wrote the words to a poem that would eventually become the Christmas standard, “I heard The Bells On Christmas Day“. The words are sad and realistic of struggle, yet still optimistic by song’s end. It was this aspect, of overcoming despair in times of adversity, that prompted it to be redone completely by the band Casting Crowns back in 2008. And it’s why I’d ask you to keep that song and its lyrics in mind today.
Read the stanza below. This certainly sounds as if he’s describing our nation’s current political landscape:
And in despair I bowed my head;
There is no peace on earth I said.
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
Yet if Longfellow, surrounded by war and personal anguish, can see his way clear to somehow write of hope in such times, surely we have no right today to simply throw in the towel, bow our head and meekly give up. We’re not alone, after all:
Then rang the bells more loud and deep;
God is not dead, nor does He sleep (He is The Lord).
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
That’s not to in any way attempt to diminish the severe threats we face today, from without and from within. It’s merely to offer a reminder that we need to trust God, ourselves and each other…and then work tirelessly to defend against those threats.
It’s only when we give up that we ever actually lose.
Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?
They’re like the angels singing.
Open up your heart and hear them:
“Peace on earth, good will to men.”