Reclaiming Hope

As I participated in a local observance of the National Day of Prayer on Thursday morning, I noticed on the program that this year’s theme was “Prayer: America’s Hope.”  

Great.  That word.  That word that every marketer and politician has adopted for their own slogan. 

Is it just me?  Since the 2008 presidential campaign, every time I see the word “hope” slapped on a litany of products, it makes me sad.  Candidate Obama’s challenge that we cling to “Hope and Change” over “Guns and Religion” has, in a sense, bastardized the words for me.  

Over the past year, I’ve watched Candidate-to-President Obama and his public exercise of religion.  As he ran the gauntlet to show us that he was worthy of being our President, the issue of his personal religion has always bothered me.

From the YouTube videos of Rev. Wright to Father Pflager, I was alarmed.  To me, the choice of a church says something important.  Not in the sense of where you go on Sunday mornings and who you are seen with at lunch after the service, but the heart of the issues on which your own personal foundations are built.

Church to me is a place where I go to be with people who share my beliefs, where we can strengthen each other in our daily walk and in our faith. 

Having the right person fill the pulpit on a weekly basis is important because that person will take our shared doctrines and flesh them out during his weekly sermon.  The foundation he brings to it matters.  

If my pastor or any visiting teacher got in the pulpit and said, “God damn America,” I wouldn’t hesitate to get up and walk out of the building.  Someone who gets to the point of saying “God damn America” from a pulpit didn’t just arrive at that point one Sunday, out of the blue. Those words don’t just happen to come out of your mouth. It can only be the result of a deeply held, carefully planned statement. 

When I see the press anoint Barack Obama as the “Messiah,” my heart breaks.  That word means something to me.  It is a word that connotes meaning – pointing to accomplished work and promised glory.  Those words, attributed to a mere political figure, insult me to the core.

But, more importantly, they insult the true Messiah.  Mr. President, God will not be mocked.

I cannot stop thinking about President Obama’s statement that America is not a Christian nation.  I am sure that made all of his statist friends happy, but the truth of the matter is that nothing he can say or do in his role as President will remove the faith that we hold in our hearts.  In fact, much of what he is doing is strengthening it.  

As I sat and prayed that morning with my fellow citizens, all of these thoughts were going through my head – at lightning speed.  

During these crazy 100+ days, I have often felt overwhelmed and, at times, a bit depressed.  Depressed in the sense that I am mourning the absolute destruction of America as we have come to know her.  Depressed because I see that few of my fellow citizens actually understand what is happening.  And depressed because even fewer are willing to stand up athwart history and yell, “Stop!”

Suddenly, there was stillness.

And then I felt that familiar voice say, “Be still and know that I am God.”

As I sat there and looked at the printed words once again, “Prayer: America’s Hope,” I felt a renewed trust in that word.  

Obama is not the Messiah and he has no claim to the word “hope.” 

It must be taken back from him.  We must not allow him to steal the joy that we have in the hope only given by  our Creator God.  

My faith is a personal one.  My relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important in my life.  During the toughest of days, I know that He is walking beside me or carrying me.  I know that through it all – He is working it out.  His plans are in progress; He knows where we are going.  So why should I fret?

My hope is in Him.