What is it like to be an Iowan in January 2016? It is to be bombarded with messages of aspiring presidential candidates. Terrorism and migration are hot topics this year, but they are only two examples of the complex issues facing our nation and our world. Those seeking the presidency claim to have answers, but we all know that any U.S. president has limited power and wisdom to make a real difference.
We might react with either despair or debate. Neither one is ultimately effective in addressing these issues. Despair would have us throwing up our hands and focusing on looking out for our own interests. Debates grow more and more shrill, and the two sides become more and more entrenched while the problems remain unsolved.
God encourages us in Isaiah 43:2b-3: “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” I read Eugene Peterson’s interesting version of these verses in The Message: “When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am GOD, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior.”
Whatever problems we are facing, on a personal or national scale, it can feel like a dead end. We can’t go forward, and we literally cannot go back in time. What is there to do? It looks hopeless.
Recently my family spent a week on the island of St. Thomas. It is a beautiful place, but the driving is not for the faint of heart. The roads are very curvy and hilly, and they drive on the left side of the road there. Hairpin turns are not unusual. The signage was confusing to me. I counted it a victory when I got to my destination without a wrong turn. We ended up on a dead end at one point. It is a frustrating experience in a place that is unfamiliar. This is not unlike the challenges of navigating through life.
Whether on a personal or a national scale, the road ahead for us often seems confusing, with blind curves and the occasional hairpin turn. The problems seem insurmountable, and we see no way forward or back. Yet God promises a way out. With God there are no dead ends; there is only life and hope ahead. Sometimes God gives us peace right where we are, and we need to trust that the way forward will appear. Occasionally the way out is shown to us quickly.
Either way, we need to trust our God who promises life ahead no matter what. The Scriptures assure us that there is more than what meets the eye in our circumstances. We have a Savior we can trust. That is our good news in the midst of a contentious caucus season. We don’t have to argue like enemies; we can listen to one another and pray for God to show us the answers. God will make a way if we trust the One who loves us deeply and eternally.