Whether you listen to Fox News or NPR, read the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, check FiveThirtyEight or Investor’s Business Daily, you’ve probably gotten the same general story.
“This is the most divisive election in our history!”
“Corruption in Washington has never been this bad.”
“If Trump wins, we’ll be facing the greatest crisis in our nation’s history!”
“Hillary is the biggest liar this nation has ever known.”
(Superlatives. They’re the absolute worst!)
It seems hyperbole just suits this exaggerated campaign doesn’t it? But really, is there actually a scale for ranking the divisiveness of elections or a corrupt-o-meter to measure just how crooked Washington is? Trump winning is surely not the greatest crisis we’ve ever known (pretty sure that’d be the Civil War), and there’s no way we could gather up all the liars in our history and line them up from little fibber to giant whopper. (Anyway, how would we know they weren’t lying about how big the lies were?)
Yet, even though these overstatements don’t hold up to rational thought, (which, admittedly, seems to be in short supply these days) most of us are still experiencing some very real anxiety regarding Tuesday’s outcomes. I know that I’ve spent plenty of nights staring at my ceiling, depressed and overwhelmed by this election.
On the best of those nights, I remember the words of Psalm 146. This isn’t an exact quote, but it is something like, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in candidates, for whom there is no help. When their breath departs or when their elections are over, they return to the earth, their hometowns, their day jobs; on that very day, their plans, their policies, their mailing lists, their Twitter feeds, perish.”
What a great reminder! See, I don’t know about you, but I put my trust in mortals all the time. And whenever I do, my world starts spinning without direction or purpose. At times like that, there’s no acting justly, loving mercy, or walking humbly for me; I get dizzy just trying to get out of my own head.
Again, the Psalmist offers me a firm place to stand and helps me get my bearings.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob who led the children of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land, who put on flesh and lived among us, whose Spirit faithfully guides us; whose hope is in the Lord their God who made heaven and earth, hummingbirds and hedgehogs, butterflies and beagles; the sea, the Intracoastal Waterway, the French Broad River, and who keeps faith forever, eternally, yesterday, today, tomorrow; who executes justice for the oppressed: people of color, the elderly, death row inmates, foster children, and public school teachers; who gives food to the hungry, companionship to the lonely, hope to the bereaved, strength to the weak.
When I shift my focus from earthly leaders to Almighty God, my world stops twisting out of control. I hold on to the hope I find in the God of Jacob and light seeps into the dark swill of despair swirling around in my mind. I stop thinking so much about divisiveness, corruption, lies and deceit, and turn my mind toward action. According to Psalm 146, the to-do list has already been written. In fact, God’s already at work: setting prisoners free, restoring sight to the blind, watching over the strangers in our midst.
With this fresh focus, I realize I don’t have time to fret and agonize over what the princes of the world are doing. After all, God’s Kingdom is coming right here on earth just like it is in heaven and there is work to be done. Plus, word has it that the Lord will reign forever. And that’s a superlative even Snopes can’t disprove.