Promises, Promises

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Are you exhausted by the politics in this country yet? I sure am, and the general election is still months away! The past couple weeks have been especially loud with the Republican and Democratic national conventions taking place in Cleveland and Philadelphia, respectively. Speeches, campaign promises, party rhetoric, and personal attacks flew wild and fast as the two major parties confirmed two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in recent history.

I’m not going to get into all the things I disliked about the speeches and pageantry of both conventions. I’ll just summarize by saying I am completely unimpressed by all the ra ra ra that accompanies conventions and campaigning. It truly baffles me that every four years, Americans seem to throw all reason and past experience out the window. Instead of thinking critically about the lies and information manipulation that spew unchecked during campaign season, we are swept along by emotional speeches, party rhetoric, and glittering promises of a better tomorrow. We convince ourselves that this time, this candidate will be able to fix the problems America faces/creates. Or, in this election cycle’s case, that one candidate must be elected to stop the other. Our hopes for a better future are placed firmly and foolishly in the wrong place – a politician whose words and promises are usually worthless. (Yes, I am a bit cynical about American politics.)

Christians, we should not be among those who get swept along by these empty words. Does this mean we can’t hope for a candidate who will lead the country wisely? Does this mean we cannot have passionately held political opinions? Does this mean we can’t appreciate a well-written, moving, and inspirational speech for what it is? Of course not. We should care deeply about the issues that face our country and the people who are elected to lead it.

But why would we settle for the false promises of politicians when we serve a God whose promises are always kept, whose words are always true. The LORD doesn’t set out to do something and then fail to do it. He doesn’t have a vague plan of action that changes when the winds of popular opinion change. He is the Rock of Ages. His words, ideas, and plans alone are completely trustworthy and good. Yes, we should engage with our system of government. But ultimately, the voice we should believe, trust, and hope in far beyond all others is that of the God of the Universe, not a fallible presidential candidate. Our God offers a security that transcends national borders and this earthly life, and a form of justice, peace, and equity that is truer and greater than any American court or social program.

I’ll close this post with some verses from Psalm 33 (ESV). They are a great comfort and refuge to those of us who are weary from the foolish talk of politicians.

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

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