Among the many privileges of my life, I have taught at the post-secondary level for several decades. Over the years, I have taught thousands of undergraduate, graduate and law students, and it has been immensely rewarding to me. Many have been outstanding young people, and with some I have become good friends. The day after the recent election, I had an email from one of my former students. She is a highly intelligent and accomplished young woman, with excellent people skills, a heart for God, and a great love to serve others. She and her husband are expecting their first child in several weeks. In her email to me, “Kathy” wrote the following:
How are you? Any thoughts on the election last night? We’re six weeks away from our baby’s due date. I’m not feeling too optimistic about the world she’s about to enter and the debt she’s going to inherit!
Here was my response to Kathy:
Dear Kathy and Robert,
I am doing well, and yes, I do have some thoughts about last night’s election. . . . Yes, the results were discouraging, and there have been other signs that were deeply discouraging. I had expected a Romney win and that the Tea Party wave of 2010 would continue. So, I can understand your concern for your new daughter, and I feel concern for you and your husband as young people early in your careers. It was stunning to me that Governor Romney (and President Obama) had almost 12 million fewer votes than four years ago, and I am still pondering the implications of that fact. But perhaps some perspective might be useful. When I was born many years ago, many things were not as advanced as today. Technology and medicine were quite antiquated compared to today. We were in the midst of a Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over all of us. I remember as a child during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis on a walk home from our local A&P asking my dad whether we might die in a nuclear war. He simply said, “Yes, we might.” You will remember having fire drills in school when you were a child; my generation had air raid drills also to protect us from nuclear attack. My cousins who are older were born in Europe during World War II, where they were born into a world of real falling bombs, concentration camps and desperate poverty. So, I hope that gives you some perspective that there has never been a perfect time to be born, and that the world has faced terrible problems at the time of every child’s birth. For those of us who are Christian believers, we now are left to face the consequences of the election. We know that Obama will continue his relentless attacks on religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage and family, and our nation’s Constitution. But now, never having to face another election, his first term of office was just a taste of what is to come. So our option is to continue to fight for that which is right, or we can simply surrender and give up our liberty. I, for one, intend to fight until my last breath. With regard to your baby, I encourage you as I am reminded of Jeremiah who wrote to the Jews sent to into exile in Babylon. In Jeremiah 29: 4-7, we read:
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
For those persons, God’s plan was the Babylonian exile, and please note the inter-generational instructions. Historians teach us that it was during this time, Jewish worship changed from the Temple to synagogues, which strengthened the Jewish communities that were increasingly dispersed throughout the world. Today, we, as St. Peter reminds us, are exiles and strangers in this world as well. (See I Peter 1:1 and I Peter 2:11). As Sunday, November 11, 2012, will be the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, we must remember that the American experience of freedom and liberty is an aberration of history, and that the world in which we live is not inclined to love strangers. This will become increasingly so in our nation as well. Nevertheless, as Jeremiah teaches, devout Christian believers are to marry and have children, to build homes and businesses during our “exile” in this world. But our activities are not to stop there; rather, we are to work for the prosperity of the cities to which God has called us. Even an evil regime can never force you to stop being a good person or a good parent. Goodness lies in a Christ-centered heart, and grows out of your love for the Lord Jesus Christ and for others. So, as we read in Hebrews 12:1-3:
….let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
So, while disappointment will surround us in almost all of our days, let us look to the example of the Lord Jesus. I hope that helps, and may God bless you and your family. I look forward to seeing photos of your new daughter soon.
With love and affection,