If you are reading this, I applaud you! I applaud your courage for being online and exposing yourself to the current circus of social media and news outlets screaming in our faces about our new president, his policies, his Twitter account, what his wife is wearing, and what kind of dog he likes. Good grief, it has been quite the week for Americans! I quickly started to dread even checking Facebook because of what may greet me when I log on.
One week ago, I wondered how we would endure 4 years of the arguing and raging and general ugliness we’ve seen from every part of the political spectrum; our country feels so polarized. Will anything be able to unify us?! I decided no—we would just have to ride this out and be constantly on our knees in prayer. Yet just in the course of a few days, I have changed my mind—I think that the next 4 years could be a yuge opportunity for wondrous love! How so, you might ask? Well, bear with me. I am still processing, so my thoughts are still quite raw.
It started with meditating on a simple verse in Psalms that we talked about a couple of weeks ago:
I love this picture of trusting God enough to pour out our hearts to him, realizing that in him, we find refuge. A shelter, a haven. Sanctuary. A place where we are safe, where we need not fear. A place where we can confide our innermost thoughts—our fears and anger, our doubts and dreams, our hopes and questions. There is nothing we can’t tell our Lord, nothing he can’t handle, nothing he doesn’t know already. And he is completely trustworthy—we have nothing to fear. Not betrayal, disappointment, rejection. God’s grace will always meet us in our darkest and scaredest moments.
But, all that said, if we aren’t afraid or angry or unsure or unsafe or unsteady, we don’t need a refuge, do we? We don’t need a sanctuary if we have no problems or no worries. So I figure, these uncertain times in our country give us the perfect opportunity to lean into Jesus. Realizing our own lack of control points us to the One who is truly in control and who is constantly working redemption in this broken world, even if we can’t see it. Friends, this is our big chance to retreat into God’s big, open arms, and rest in his love, his goodness, and his sovereignty.
As I’ve pondered this, I’ve watched social media battles among friends, words shouted and poorly received, feelings hurt, anger expressed, humility sought, apologies made, forgiveness extended. It’s been a roller coaster, and I’m sure that you have seen similar things, unless you’ve fasted from social media the last week. Or year or so. And regardless of where we stand politically, we cannot deny that millions of Americans feel hurt, overlooked, and unheard. This is true on both sides of the political spectrum—we, as a country, have not done a great job at listening to each other. We know our own story, we know our own convictions and opinions, and we speak out for our cause. We rarely pause to listen to someone else, especially someone we know we won’t agree with.
Seeing the heated emotions everywhere, from social media to television to our own little downtown, made me realize that as Christians, we have a big, fat opportunity in the next 4 years to extend the heart of God to the hurting. Let’s disregard whether or not we think our neighbor is right or wrong on a certain issue—let’s regard their heart instead. Let’s ponder what it would take to create a shelter—a refuge—for our neighbors. What would it mean to engage them in such a way that proves we are a safe place for them to share their heart? To tell us their story? To explain why they are hurting? What if we made their heart a priority over policy? What if we looked for ways to reflect God’s trustworthiness and carved out a safe place for vulnerability where our neighbors could pour out their hearts? What would it take for us to close our mouths and open our arms and ears instead?
I am not saying that we shouldn’t fight for our convictions; I’m simply suggesting that we remember that the person on the other side of the debate is a human being, created in the image of God, with dignity and their own story of hurt.
Friends, as we engage our country in the current political climate, as Christians we have the benefit of knowing that before we are citizens of this country, we are citizens of God’s Kingdom; someday, he will bring us home to him. He will redeem our hurts and pains, and he will undo death itself! We will see our stories from a perfect, redemptive perspective. And we will live with him in eternity full of hope fulfilled.
But consider our neighbors who don’t have that perspective. Consider what it means to have citizenship of this world alone, with no hope in Future Redemption. Where does that leave our neighbor? What is the state of their mind and heart? What fears dwell there? How can we gain access? How can we meet them in their lion’s den and shine a little light in there?
So as we continue trying to figure out how to navigate these troubled times in our country, and as we learn how to engage our neighbor, let’s keep a few things in mind:
- God is our refuge, our safe place where we can pour out our hearts and be met with grace.
- We are God’s children, called to be a redemptive presence in our neighborhoods.
- We are citizens of God’s Kingdom, created for more than this life on our broken earth.
What is your story of how God’s grace has met you in your own fears? How has God proven to be a refuge for you? What does it mean to your heart that you are a citizen of God’s Kingdom? How does that affect your perspective about things on earth? Who is someone in your life who is hurting? What would it look like for you to listen to their story without offering advice/input? What would it mean for you to become a safe place for neighbors who are scared or angry or anxious? How can you trust God in this?