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  • Writer's pictureJason E. Fort

Lamenting Over a Nation, Yet Realizing Hope

A fellow Christian philosopher and I were discussing his epiphany during the great American passtime of baseball. He described to me how awesome it was to sit with his son at a Braves baseball game, and the sheer thrill and eruption of the stadium as a left handed hitter hit a surprise home run off a left handed pitcher, to win the game.

He continued to describe his realization, at that moment, of how much more wonderful and thrilling the moment will be when we who claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior see Him return.

"Can't you just picture it?" I can't help but think of a poem I wrote years ago about another exciting divine image in my mind's eye.

I loved his emotion and reverie he shared with me about that moment for a father and his son, and how he reminded me of what matters most; The Father and The Son.

I went on to share with him that there was a time when I used to get excited and thrilled over moments like that, in just about any sport. I lamented with him over the decadence of American society, and the rapid decline of American institutions and American trends of wholesomeness, that used to help this country shine like a beacon on top of a hill. I told him, almost ashamed, that I just can't get excited about those things anymore. But I did follow up, speaking to his epiphany, that the older I've gotten, the more I find joy in looking forward to Jesus returning. He basically brought up the idea first, when as we spoke, he looked forward to either seeing Jesus because he knew the next big life event he really had left (besides grandchildren) was either going to meet Jesus, or Jesus coming again. We both agreed that the latter is certainly a possibility.

I love these conversations with fellow believers, and yet I do lament over my country often. It even makes me angry, and my son has often pointed out this flaw in my personality. It does tend to make its ugly presence known; the anger that is.

But it makes me mad and sad at the same time, when I think about how American society has desecrated the institution of marriage. It saddens me when I think about how we've created a culture of fear in our children, conditioning them to not think for themselves, and fear going outside without showing their faces, for fear of disease. It angers me to know that a country that was built through trials and tribulation into embracing people's differences, has turned into a place where culture doesn't accept you unless you are part of division created to force us all into conflict. It makes me almost ashamed to be American, to know how passively our citizens have given in to putting government on a pedestal, trusting the government elites to care for our every need, and protect us from disease, as if the government is a God.

And yet, these things cannot take away our hope.

As I sat in the worship service in my church today, Revelation 21, verses 3-4 were up on the screen at one point.

"3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Earlier in the service, the all too familiar words that I've often associated with having no reason to fear this world; Psalm 23 were both in one of our worship songs and quoted on the projection screen. These words echo in my mind: "Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Whenever I read or hear those words, especially in the form of a song, I cannot help but think of the imagery created by my friend's sincere description of his realization in that moment after a home run. If I could somehow hold on to that feeling of elation; if I could just bottle it up and drink a sip of God's holiness whenever I get down, perhaps all of this middle age lamenting can be seen for what it is; fruitless, wasted time.

But hey - that's why, through patterns of history, and God's divine wisdom, mercy, and grace, God gave us His word...and the Word made flesh. That joy I want to just find in a bottle is available anytime. I need only to remember to pray, and spend time with God in scripture. All these other things we have in this world, and in our nation, that have caused me to lament in the past (and probably more in the future) will pass away.

What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. said?

"Keep your eyes on the prize."

That prize is a new heaven and a new earth. And it's certainly worth keeping our eyes on.

God bless you today, and every day. And may the times of lamenting also forever pass away.

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