Recent pictures from Washington, D.C., are sobering. Barricades block off the Lincoln Memorial and countless other historic locations that are typically teeming with visitors. These scenes are replicated at national parks and government offices across the country – empty spaces flanked by official signs stating the reason for the eerie quiet: the government shutdown.
This quiet has been met with a lot of noise – elected officials, media pundits, government employees, and plenty of others, both in the U.S. and around the world, have offered it as proof that the bipartisan divide in America is as wide as ever. These conversations have largely involved finger-pointing and hang-wringing over how broken both our economy and our system of government seem to be. Tempers are running high, and consequently many of these conversations generate much heat, but shed very little light.
In situations like this, when we seem divided, when so many have expressed a lack of trust in elected officials, and when things seem to be beyond our control, it is tempting to throw up our hands in despair. Thankfully, as people of faith we have much greater cause for hope than despair. Certainly, our lives are affected by the shutdown, and this is a serious problem that demands our attention. But these problems are – or ought to be – faced with the certain knowledge that God remains sovereign and present throughout our challenges.
We can gain perspective, as always, by turning to the Bible. Psalm 146 admonishes us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” It’s an astonishing statement on its face; certainly, electing people who we trust, and holding them accountable when they fail, is one of the duties of every responsible citizen. Our democratic system of government is a hard-won and precious blessing. Is the Bible telling us to place no trust in those who hold power in it?
I don’t think it’s that simple. Verse five goes on to say, “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” Perhaps, then, the psalmist is reminding us who we are, and who God is, and telling us to place our trust accordingly. Humans are fallible, mortal, and often driven by self-interest; to place a certain amount of trust in them (particularly in the case of elected officials) may be necessary, but to place absolute trust in them is folly. God is immortal, timeless, the Creator of all things; He alone is deserving of our absolute trust.
In times like these I am reminded of the Israelites and how many times all seemed lost for them. They had been exiled, enslaved, attacked, and scattered. They were ruled by corrupt leaders, suffered the poor guidance of godless religious figures, and wandered in the desert for 40 years. But God never left His people. And He is with us still. No matter how long this shutdown may last or whatever calamity may follow, we can rest assured that God is in control – and that we are safe in His hands.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.