I just thought I would post a quick comment today. I was reading in the news this morning about the attempts in Wisconsin and Indiana to make real progress in fiscal discipline and I was encouraged. Peggy Noonan’s article this past weekend about Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was refreshing. Her story about Gov. Christie’s straightforward explanation to the 7,500 booing firefighters was inspiring (though I have to say my favorite line from her article was her description of Gov. Daniels as ‘the Indiana governor who is the answer to the question, “What if Calvin Coolidge talked?'”). The news this morning about the struggle in Wisconsin was encouraging, too — that politicians are at points where they are willing to take steps that make common sense but which are politically dangerous is, to me, encouraging.
I bring this up because I want to make sure that in all of our talk about what’s going wrong with the country I don’t come across as someone who wishes for its defeat. I’ve expressed this concern before — in fact, about three years ago, in a February 2008 post. That post, after some cleaning and polishing, became a small article in the July-August Tomorrow’s World magazine: “Rooting for Defeat?”
I can understand how someone who isn’t reading too closely might think that. But I do love my country, and I hate to see it buckling under the weight of its sin and its willingness to ignore the wisdom and guidance of the God who has blessed it so.
While I know — and say here repeatedly — that the only real and lasting solution to our national ills will come from real and lasting national repentance, at the same time I am encouraged when I see better fiscal policy. I’m encouraged when I see politicians of any stripe or party do things that make sense and which might make a real difference.
Yes, terrible things must come before Christ’s return, and consequences must be experienced. But do we cheer those consequences on? Of course not. Rather, as it is recorded in Ezekiel:
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'” (Ezekiel 33:11)
And in Proverbs:
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles…” (Proverbs 24:17)
…and if this is the case for your enemy, how much more for a nation and a people you love?
(By the way, it’s passages like these, among others, that makes the joyful, grinning faces of some of the placard-bearing members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church so ungodly and appalling.)
I would like to see common sense in our government, instead of the weird, “altered reality” mindset that seems to beset many individuals who come into public office, in which perception and pretense seem to so consistently trump reality. It’s not enough that common sense be present in government, since having an accurate sense of the desires, plans, and commands of God is often not common sense (Rom. 8:7, 1 Cor. 2:14, 2 Cor. 5:7, et al.). But it would still be encouraging.
These times hold a powerful potential for being exactly the kind of alarm needed to help rouse our leaders and our citizenry, overall. If it means waking up to common sense, I will be encouraged, even though that isn’t enough. If it means waking up to the need for God’s active presence and aid in the affairs of our country — now that would be something.
But if it means the nation simply hits the snooze button and turns over, I will wonder how soon before the alarm ceases to sound and the consequences of showing up late to work begin.