Continuing Despite Our Discouragement
Our nation is less than 90 days away from electing the next president of our United States of America, although “united” seems to be a misnomer with the divisive political and cultural elements at work in our nation.
This certainly has not been the presidential cycle I anticipated nor is it one that persuades me to think that the result in November will heal our wounds and place our nation on a corrected path to fiscal solvency. Regardless of the outcome, limited constitutional government will take yet another hit in the executive office of America, and likely in the seats of Congress as well.
As it relates to politics, this has by far been my greatest season of discontent. The serious fiscal and culture-related issues we face at the local, state, and national levels are certainly enough to discourage the most hard-core conservative activist, but a recent devotional reading was a source of enlightenment as to the root of my frustration.
The devotion relates the struggles of Elijah in confronting the corrupt rulers of Israel and the exhaustion and feelings of isolation that he experienced in those conflicts. From Elijah’s perspective, he was fighting the battles for faith by himself and experiencing some serious depression as a result. Elijah certainly wasn’t the only Old Testament prophet who knew those feeling of despair, as Habakkuk shared similar feelings of anguish while he cried out to God for justice. Both prophets are actually described as “activists,” albeit spiritual ones in the devotion, and the point was made that the feelings of exhaustion and isolation are classic negative activist symptoms.
How similar are the feelings and response of constitutional and social conservatives regarding our own efforts in our nation? We just don’t seem to be winning very many battles of late and are simply drained by defeat.
Whether we lose to those on the political left or to the big government politicians on the right – though it is much harder to stomach from those who pretend to be with us long enough to be elected – continual political defeat is a bitter pill to swallow, and it’s one I unfortunately know all too well.
Is it the overwhelming number of issues that require our constant attention and action, or our culture of champions and wanting to only be on the winning team that discourages us from standing up and showing up for the battles we might lose? Is it possibly a fear of rejection, or going against the new cultural “normal” that will label us as intolerant, backwards, or worse?
In the devotional scripture references, God assured Elijah that there were indeed thousands of others who were engaged in the battle of faith and He reminded Habakkuk that even though his vision was limited to what he could see, there was something working behind the scenes. The message of living by faith is one that we make very difficult to follow if we are only consumed with the immediate results of our work, and I think that is what many conservative activists are feeling these days.
I confess to the same feelings of despair with our current political system and those we elect to serve. I’ve experienced far too many hours of wondering why bother to remain informed and respond with efforts that appear woefully inadequate to influence policy when the Goliaths of special interests and anti-conservative sentiment run rampant in our country.
I considered the perfect timing of this devotional encouragement as yet another political issue emerged with the special session of our Alabama Legislature to consider a lottery bill, and further heartened as work done “behind the scenes” led to the emergence of a coalition of principled House representatives who attempted to keep a poorly-designed lottery bill off the November ballot by the proper adherence of procedural rules.
While my opposition to a lottery as a means of resolving budgetary shortfalls includes my a concerns regarding the negative impact on families and their financial resources, it includes my skepticism that this legislative body can produce any legislation that will contain the corruption that is sure to follow the expansion of gambling in our state.
To me, it’s a lazy way of funding government and one that puts the burden on those who can least afford the expense. Yes, it’s a personal choice to gamble in any form, but the lure of easy money is most likely to prey on those desperate for a way out of a financial situation, or those who have a difficult time with addiction issues. I’m also of the belief that it further erodes the work ethic on which our nation was built, and contributes more to the entitlement mentality that is destined to destroy us all.
So as I once again take my concerns to my elected representatives regarding this issue and others to come, I will strive to remember that while I may certainly be discouraged by the things that I can see, our continuing efforts for good government are desperately needed and must never be viewed as wasted. What might be going on “behind the scenes” is quite possibly a result of the seeds we have sown.