“I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.”
-Red, The Shawshank Redemption
As I watched news reporters grapple for words last night upon the realization that Donald Trump was elected president, the above quote came to mind. What so many people refused to entertain for months has now become reality and they are left disillusioned. My social media feeds confirm that half of America is wondering, “How the hell did this happen?”
I was unsurprised at Trump’s victory, having read some very insightful political commentary the past few months. The political climate was perfect for a demagogue, but I won’t write about that. [You should totally read about it, though, if you are left wondering “why?”] Politics aren’t my specialty and they aren’t my hill to die on. This election has revealed a bigger, more insidious truth that is my specialty, our spiritual condition.
The reporters I saw last night couldn’t keep their opinions from bursting out of their mouth like biscuits from a freshly opened tube. “I thought we’d be making history tonight [by electing our first female president],” one lamented. We, as a nation, were so ready to pat ourselves on the back for being so progressive that we were blind to angst the other half of the nation felt, the same angst that reveals the condition of all of our hearts.
The Bible (and history) tell us that fear, hatred, and greed are at our core. Comfort, safety, and wealth insulate the ugly things inside from coming out, but get us uncomfortable and watch out! We curse at other drivers and swerve around trying to get ahead in traffic. We snap at our kids when they’re too disobedient or needy for our liking. We carefully craft facades to prove we are smarter, better looking, and more cultured than our peers. We want others to have a better quality of life, but only if it doesn’t affect our own. And therein our hearts are exposed.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.” Jeremiah 7:9-10
This election and its angry aftermath prove yet again that we can’t simply grow past our sinful nature. We can’t educate it away. We can’t will it away. We’ve been trusting in humanity and our government to save us and look where it got us.
The only one who can change our dark course is Jesus. God reaches into the corners of our hearts and changes us from the inside out. He is our only hope for real, lasting change.
My prayer for us individually and as a nation is Paul’s prayer:
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.
May you see that power at work in your life as you avail yourself to Jesus’s glorious light in the depths of your soul. May we be transformed by the Holy Spirit into people who are marked by faith, hope, and love.