Yesterday, I witnessed the inauguration of our 44th President. Amid all of the exuberance, celebration, and the great wave of hope our people are experiencing, I felt heavy in my soul. I’ve been asking myself, “Why am I feeling this way?” “Why aren’t I filled with the same kind of joy that so many are experiencing?” After all, Barak Obama is our very first African American president. He is educated, charismatic, and seemingly genuine. Despite the fact that I differ with him on several ‘hot button’ issues, there is a lot to admire about him. He is representative of people everywhere who work, strive, achieve, and dream.
Last night, as I lay in bed reading, it hit me! This man for whom we threw the most expensive inauguration ever has been heralded by the news media, Hollywood, and the “Who’s Who” in America as our savior. It is as though as a nation we believe we have finally found THE ONE who can fight our battles for us and win. The news is showing interviews of people saying, “I FINALLY have hope.” Finally? Despite the fact that we live in a ‘free’ country which is arguably the most prosperous nation in the world it is apparent that an unbelievable number Americans live without hope!!! Now, with the inauguration of the first African American President, America has finally found someone it can believe in. Many genuinely feel he is the only one who can safely guide us through the troubled waters that we as a nation face. Many of our people who are weary and live in despair have transferred all of their hopes, finally and officially, onto the shoulders of a human being.
I’d like to note that we are not the first nation to find ourselves in this place. There is indeed a cautionary Biblical record in 1 Samuel Chapter 8. I believe this passage parallels our current situation. In his old age, Samuel the prophet anointed his two sons, Joel and Abijah, to serve as judges too. His sons, however, did not follow in their father’s footsteps. The Bible says that they “turned aside after honest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” So the elders of Israel gathered and went to Samuel saying, “You are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us such as all of the other nations have.” Samuel was displeased, which strikes me as odd. Was he displeased that his sons were crooked? No, in fact it seems he was displeased because Israel wanted a king. At any rate, Samuel went to the Lord and prayed. God told Samuel to listen to all the people had to say and to warn them strongly of all that a king would do, including taking their sons for charioteers, daughters to be perfumers and cooks. Additionally, God warned that the king would take a tenth of their grain and wine and give it to his officials and attendants. Furthermore, their menservants and maidservants as well as the best of their cattle would be taken for the king’s own use! Basically, a king would skim best of his people and from his people to increase his own wealth and power. But the elders of Israel, that is the priests, scholars, politicians, the wealthy, wanted a human King badly enough that they were willing to accept that heavy price. It seems their primary reason is so that Israel ‘would be like the other nations.’
The most important part of this scripture is what God says to Samuel in verse 7, “It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected ME as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.” God called Abraham and took him to the land God intended to give him. God established a covenant through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Exodus 6:7 God says, “You will be my people and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt (where they were enslaved.)” Throughout history, God nurtures, cares for, and provides for his people. Throughout the Bible we are continually admonished, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9) In Psalm 46:2 David says, “Therefore we will not fear though earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea.“ It is imperative that we keep our eyes on the living God. He and He alone will go before us. Only He can save! Why are we putting our faith in a man or in a government to save us instead? Each time we put our faith in something other than God, we are worshipping something other than Him. In essence, when we do so, we are rejecting God as king. We are therefore engaging in idolatry. And when we worship idols, we find only disappointment, only despair, and only a road that leads to ruin. After all, only the I AM is truly capable of saving us.
Let me emphatically state that we are to respect and honor those authorities that God has established.
God appoints Kings; He appoints rulers. We are to pray for them! After all, as Psalm 24 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…..for the kings of the earth belong to God.” That said, we are to HOPE in the Lord. As David sang in Psalm 146, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” He goes on to say, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them–the Lord, who remains faithful forever.”
In families, circles of friends, and, yes, even politics, we are seeking people to be faithful to us. Slang phrases like, “I’ve got your back!” bear this out. Political slogans like, “A Change We Can Believe In” reflect this need. We seek those who won’t disappoint, who won’t abandon us, those who won’t let us down. Sadly, whether by intrigue, human fragility, greed, malice, or death, we WILL be let down. The very people that should be those who never fail you, will indeed fail. That is why we can only trust the God of Jacob to remain. He who was, who IS, and who IS to come is SAFE! We can believe in him! We can hope in him, and we won’t be let down.
Let us examine ourselves! Where is our hope? In whom are we placing all of our trust? I can remember as a little girl, I felt as though if I could just crawl into my father’s lap, he could fix anything. How I loved being his little princess. I felt so special to him and basked in the sunshine of his affection. I put all of my trust in him. One day something happened, I am still not sure what, but I wasn’t his little princess anymore. I found myself shut out, put out to pasture and replaced by others. Truthfully, he failed me. I’ve realized not only doesn’t he want to fix IT, but he is completely incapable of doing so. Let me make this clear though, the sin was mine, because I put him in God’s place in my heart. I have grieved that loss so very deeply! And Sometimes I want to feel Jesus, touch him and know that He is solid, REAL, just like Thomas the apostle did.
I would suspect I am not the only person who has suffered this realization. Maybe the man who said he would always love you left you for someone else. Perhaps your father left your home and had children in another relationship that he now dotes on instead of you. Maybe you grew up poor and oppressed with no shot at an education. Maybe no one is proud to claim you as their own, because you never measured up to their expectations. Maybe your job moved overseas and you are struggling to find employment. Whatever your situation, you can have HOPE and not in the next, newest, political administration!
God “upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Has it occurred to you that Jesus, the son of God, was born to a poor, unimportant family? The prophet Isaiah says that there was no beauty or majesty to attract us to him; nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Frankly, if I was coming to earth as the son of the Most High God, I’d have picked to be really good looking and driving a Corvette. I would have chosen to be born to the Vanderbilts, Kennedys, or Rockefellers. But Jesus cares for you, right where you are. He chose a lowly birth to demonstrate his desire, his love, his passion for the poor and the weak.
Again, let us examine, where is our faith? Where is our hope? Just as George Bush couldn’t control the destiny of any one man, neither can Obama save us from ourselves. I encourage you to put your faith in the Lord. Not only is he ABLE to save you, He is WILLING! May you find hope in Him and Him alone!