By Elizabeth Prata
My cat died in August. Eight months before that, my other cat died. I’d had them for 7 years and 15 years.
Even though months have passed, when I come home and open the door I still sometimes expect Murray to come bounding over. Sometimes when I make the bed I still expect to find Bert under the covers. Sometimes when I hang my keys I still remind myself to use the high hook so the cat won’t play with them…until I remember. There’s no cat.
I was married once. He had an affair and left abruptly. It was rapid. For a long time I reached over in bed expecting to find the husband. For a long time I glanced at the other garage bay expecting to see his car. For a long time when I opened the closet I expected to see golf clubs.
There’s heart knowledge and there’s head knowledge. My head knows Murray died in August. I possess cognitive knowledge of that fact. I’m not senile, and I don’t have memory problems. It’s just that split second where the knowledge in my head hasn’t caught up with the feelings in my heart. I had a great deal of love in my heart for the cat, and I mourn and miss him. The habits of a lifetime with him are embedded in my very flesh, the way I store my dangly bookmarks, the way I keep my keys out of reach, the places where I put decorations, were all based on one fact and truth, and now that fact and truth has changed. It takes a while for my heart to catch up.
I love America. I live here, I’m invested in its functioning, its prosperity, its habitability. I do my part to keep it going as a productive member of its society. My head knows that America is not my ultimate home. My head knows that my citizenship is actually in heaven. I belong to another kingdom. But for the meantime, I live here. I’ve been given Constitutional rights, civic responsibilities, and societal promises based on law. My mind has adapted over a lifetime to these facts. My body has worked in concert with the laws and recreations inherent in its confines. My heart has melded with the lands, peoples, and activities performed here.
But the facts are changing, and fast. My heart needs time to catch up. This Presidential election, boy, it’s been exhausting.
I’m old enough to remember the messy election in 2000 where Vice-President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush’s close race caused a heated national debate, especially in Florida, where Bush ended up winning by 537 votes and thus the whole election, despite the arguments about hanging chads and dimpled chads (you had to be there.)
This article describes three of the most contested Presidential elections in America’s history, 1876, 1960, and the aforementioned 2000 race. For most of my adult life, the elections between the two main parties, Republican and Democrat, are framed as ‘the most important ever’. It usually isn’t, but in this case, it definitely is, in my opinion. There is no guarantee that the country will go on and on and on. No country ever does. No empire ever does. After WWI the map of Europe was unrecognizable. Just in my lifetime, the global map has been redrawn numerous times. America as we have known it is not guaranteed a future. In fact, given the history as seen through the Bible, a wicked country is almost guaranteed NOT to continue past a certain point.
Is TODAY that point? The Lord promised to be “like a moth to Ephraim And like rottenness to the house of Judah.” (Hosea 5:12). The moth works secretly, hidden, until the day comes and you pull your garment from the closet only to discover it’s in tatters. America surely deserves the moth judgment and indeed the Lord seems to have been working as a moth and as rot to infirm our foundations all these decades since the sexual revolution of the 1960s. We surely deserve the moth, the judgment of abandonment.
The moth in a garment, and the decay in wood, corrode and prey upon the substance, in which they lie hid, slowly, imperceptibly, but, at the last, effectually. Such were God’s first judgments on Israel and Judah; such are they now commonly upon sinners. He tried, and now too tries at first, gentle measures and mild chastisements, uneasy indeed and troublesome and painful; yet slow in their working; each stage of loss and decay, a little beyond that which preceded it; but leaving long respite and time for repentance, before they finally wear out and destroy the impenitent. Barnes’ Notes on Hosea 5:12
Or will the LORD be to America as He did to Sodom and Gomorrah (and Admah and Zeboiim), striking suddenly and cataclysmically, to stand as a lesson throughout history to one and all who dare to perpetuate their widespread base wickedness so openly? (Genesis 19:24, Jude 1:7) America surely deserves the cataclysmic wrath.
It is good that so many brethren are using social media to remind us that God is on His throne. God is in control. God is not surprised by any of this, in fact, He has purposed it. These reminders are good and necessary. But we still need time and space to grieve. We still need to give ourselves a break, to say ‘It’s OK to feel bad, to feel loss, to feel fear for our future and our children’s future.’ It’s OK. We are not less of a Christian because we are dwelling in this in-between time where our hearts’ emotions need to adjust to our head’s knowledge.
John Flavel wrote in Triumphing over Sinful Fear, “It cannot be said of any person, as it is said of Leviathan: he is “made without fear” (Job 41:33b). The strongest people are not without some fears. … [T]he best people tremble in expectation of the worst events…”
We feel fear, not a sinful fear, but a legitimate concern. How will we feed our families? Will my job be taken away? If crime and lawlessness rises, how will I protect my wife? Do I need to buy a gun? If so, am I willing to shoot someone? Am I ready to be hungry, or in medical want? We know the Lord will help us, but we still raise these concerns in our mind while our heart catches up to the new facts on the ground. Give yourselves a break. It’s OK to be troubled during times of national stress and turbulence. And really, ALL of 2020 has been turbulent. It takes a toll.
The only danger is that as we tire of the exhausting and constant national and personal stresses, we might end up not reading our Bible, praying, or even going to church (if your church is open). Don’t let up on these. We need to continue working through our emotions to settle them and allow alignment between heart and head. As we grow and mature in sanctification, the time between adjusting to the new era or situation diminishes. This will make us stronger. This will allow the Light to shine brightly. Maintaining our spiritual disciplines will strengthen our grasp on Jesus all the more, even as America might be slipping away. And that is the point, isn’t it?