There is nothing new under the sun. For as long as humanity has walked the earth, we, collectively and individually, have had an unsatisfied longing. For those who have the privilege, we raise up and elect officials to make the way better. For most of the Old Testament years, the leaders for whom Israel so adamantly plead ended up being evil. Some were God-fearing. “He did what was evil” and “He did what was right” in the sight of the Lord are many times the summations of entire legacies of the judges and kings of Israel.
Beyond the reaches of law and policy, culture and society, with various effect throughout centuries, the Bible affirms that regardless of the circumstances, God has been for His people. He has remained faithful to His promises. Even while the Psalmist laments in his current circumstances facing death, famine, and sometimes silence, God was always working. Psalm 136 is a beautiful song with the lyric, “His steadfast love endures forever” because for the author, it did, and it does.
It is so fitting that the hope of the nativity is right around the corner. God is with us. He doesn’t usually work in the ways we think He should. At the appointed time when again people wanted a dictator or king, He sent a baby to a stable. When the proud were perpetuating religion for the sake of god made in the image of man, He was living life on the behalf of His beloved image bearers for the sake of their righteousness. When folks wanted someone to overthrow the government, He used its constructs to satisfy the wrath of God and the penalty of death to guarantee salvation for those who believe. And when some bent to prove His demise with a sealed and guarded tomb, He defeated death so we may have the hope of heaven. It is in the quiet of history that the most profound works of the Maker and Savior of men produce lasting effects. Forgiveness of sins reaches all the way into today, as souls are stilled and sealed in the quiet spaces.
We want leaders— people who will stand beyond the fray, tell us the truth, and bring safety and fulfillment to our generation, and for good reason. Sometimes, we try to fill the space with ourselves, thinking that if we only had the influence, voice, and resources, we could do what should be done for the sake of our cultures and our communities. There are times heaven breaks through and we enjoy gracious gifts. Sometimes, we feel the weight of the world and come up far short. Through it all, the longing remains.
One thing is sure: the One upon whom all authority, justice, and mercy has come to make our future sure and will come again to judge equitably. Until then, our hearts will cry out for the land of truth, rest, and peace. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Lord, help me to hold loosely to the things of this world and keep my eyes focused on the world to come, loving my neighbors along the way. For the days of *pointing* peace, I praise you. For the days of want, I petition you. For all the days in between, give me an awareness of Your presence.