By Elizabeth Prata
Despondency: aka dejection, extreme discouragement. That was me in February.
The last four years have been interesting watching the liberal faction of the population in the United States respond to President Donald Trump. In God’s will and timing, the Lord appointed Trump to be elected and perhaps be used as a magnet to draw to the visible surface all the hatred and corruption in many hearts and in many organizations, especially the media.
The riots last summer, the actions of the leaders who called sin purity and purity sin, all who had claimed what was bitter was sweet and what was sweet was actually bitter, it made my head spin. Riots, destruction, lawlessness. A so-called pandemic and lockdowns. Lonely deaths, tragic separations. It just went on and on.
But that was life in this ole world, to be expected, so my head dealt with it.
Then came November 2020 and the Presidential election. I was pandemic-weary by then and wanted to see some change. Yet the opposite happened, I was truly shocked to see such election corruption and dirty tricks played out before my eyes. With sin, you know that it exists but you never know how deep it goes. This time the Lord was showing us it went deep. It went wide.
I’m always amazed by Jesus’ infinite love, its length and width and height and depth Ephesians 3:18 (FOUR dimensions!), but I’m equally flabbergasted by my inability to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of sin. When I see it crashing through to new lows I’m surprised – but I should not be.
I was born into a political family, where my father actively supported local and state candidates. I remember playing in echo-y grange halls with red-white-and blue bunting decorations and voter cards and people coming and going. My father ran for office several times, winning a few of those races. I loved the orderly process of elections and transitions and was deeply proud of America from having seen how our system works from the inside at an early age.
Then January 2021 came and the transition from one president to another was less than orderly. Shocking again to see what had played out in the capitol that Inauguration day. Vitriolic hatred oozed onto social media and many conservatives and Christians were canceled, banned, or slandered. The hatred against brethren and other like-minded individuals was an eye-opener. Were the bystanders to Jesus shocked to see the hatred by the Pharisees leveled against Him? Their dark hearts and sly words coming from those whom the people had thought were righteous?
(I’m NOT comparing Trump to Jesus, I’m comparing the hatred in people’s hearts unleashed to emerge to the surface like hidden rats on a ship running to the surface when the ship begins to sink.)
I hold freedom of speech dear. I ran a newspaper founded on the notion that people in the civic arena deserve to be able to speak their minds and that an exchange of ideas is important for a democracy to thrive. I was even appointed by the Senate of Maine to serve on a legislative committee to review the free speech standards for the state. It was a high moment in my life.
February was a nadir. It felt to me that the process from November to January 22 and the tamping down of free speech was in fact a long slow, painful death of a nation. Whether America is dying or not remains to be seen, but that was how I felt during the first of 2021. I was shocked and dismayed, and despondent for a while.
It’s one thing to read in the Bible the collapse of Israel and the Jewish captives carried off, and then to see a similar thing happen in real life, to my own country. In Hosea 5:1 we read of a judgment coming because of their apostasy, and it begins with calling to the priests and to Israel and the court of the kings.
Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, house of Israel! Listen, you of the house of the king! For the judgment applies to you
Further along in Hosea, the verse from Hosea 5:11-12 has always resonated with me,
Ephraim is oppressed, broken by judgment, Because he was determined to follow man’s command. Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, And like rottenness to the house of Judah.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains Hosea 5:8-15: “The destruction of impenitent sinners is not mere talk, to frighten them, it is a sentence which will not be recalled. And it is a mercy that we have timely warning given us, that we may flee from the wrath to come. Compliance with the commandments of men, who thwart the commandments of God, ripens a people for ruin.”
The Soviet Union disintegrated over the course of 4 years but much of that was largely invisible- similar to moths chewing away in the darkness of the closet. Internal governmental and Parliamentarian conflicts, dissatisfactions within the union of Soviet states, and an ineffective leadership, combined in a critical mass to startle the world when one day the President of the Union (Mikhail Gorbachev) resigned, declared his office extinct, and handed over power to Russian president Boris Yeltsin (including the nuclear codes). What had seemed a strong and everlasting union of states, mighty in their boasting and prowess, disintegrated into dust before our eyes.
The Lord had been a moth to that situation, silently chewing away their garments, a worm to invisibly destabilize them, and one day the Soviet Union collapsed. Was this happening to the US? It could be. We certainly deserve it. Hosea again.
But knowing that we deserve no less than many other apostate nations, we being rebels to Him and His word, a church whose light had been hidden under a bushel basket of stage lights and fog machines, whose Gospel had been polluted and made into man’s image, was of no comfort during February when it took my heart time to catch up with my head.
I am not doubting God’s goodness in any way, in fact, I trust His judgment and find comfort in His wrath and completely understand that He will judge rightly. But seeing the dismantling of the foundations of our nation: civil discourse, freedom of speech, orderly elections, and proper transitions, was hard to take. I got despondent.
And I didn’t read the word regularly. Then I stopped reading it altogether, for two whole weeks.
Then the Spirit in His goodness brought to mind verses like Deuteronomy 32:35 “Their foot shall slide in due time” and 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall” and 2 Peter 3:17, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unscrupulous people and lose your own firm commitment,” and especially Hebrews 2:1, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.“
Oh no! All those warnings apply to me. I am no better and no different than anyone else. I must get back. All it took is to open the Bible laying on my table, a daily rebuke during the weeks I gave it short shrift, but a pool of balm and comfort once opened. But that act of opening it is a monumental climb up to the summit of Everest, isn’t it? A battle, as real as any on D-Day or Waterloo. Once I dropped the habit, even for such a short time, it was daily becoming harder to reach for the Book and make it mine again. It is amazing how fast that happens. I resumed my Bible Reading Plan in James and the wisdom described in the first three chapters was so soothing. Why do I ever leave the Bible to wring my hands and mourn? Why am I foolish? Why do I starve myself?
Don’t drop it, ladies. In the daily grind of children and diapers and husbands and work and in-laws and everything else, don’t drop the word of God. I’m writing this because mainly I exhort and encourage. But I don’t want anyone to think I have it all together. My exhortations are always aimed at myself, first. I am a woman stumbling on my way to glory, sometimes walking, and some few times, soaring, only to fall back to stumbling at times.
And look, in His providence, when I resumed my Reading Plan, this verse was ‘coincidentally’ in the first batch:
“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to rein in the whole body as well.” (James 3:2).
I’m grateful to have a Body of believers around me to stir me to Godly affections, serve as an example, buoy me when I’m down. And when it’s my turn to be up I hope I do the same for others. I need you, I need Jesus, I need His word. In His grace my heart has now caught up with my head-knowledge. I mourn for he lost more than ever, for their ends will be dire and eternal. But I glory in Jesus who died and rose again to take upon Himself the wrath due me. I’m over my funk.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)