The day looming on America’s horizon for so long is finally here: Election Day. How thankful I am to live in a country where I can still cast my vote and watch the democratic process play out, for better or for worse! But today I vote with a distinct sense of sorrowful concern for my country. As many of my respected Christian leaders have pointed out in recent months, the tenor of the presidential race this year has served to highlight the deep-seated struggles within our country, struggles that cannot possibly be fixed by our next president. Racial tensions, economic divisions, moral differences, fear, and hate translate into rioting, looting and shootings in our streets and neighborhoods. I honestly felt safer in Korea for the past two years, sitting fifty miles south of the DMZ, than I would have felt in my own country, where the source of the threat is unclear and inconsistent and catches our citizens unaware.
Centuries ago, a prophet named Jeremiah lived in the midst of similar violence in the city of Jerusalem. As God’s specifically chosen prophet during his country’s last days, he advised, he warned, and he pleaded with kings and commoners alike to repent of their ungodly ways and to return in obedience to God. Instead, they scorned and acted violently against Jeremiah, accusing him of misrepresenting God’s will for their country, and they persisted in their disobedience to God. So Jeremiah watched as his beloved city was besieged by Babylon; he watched as desperate, starving mothers ate their own children; he watched as Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, the majority of the population killed by the sword or deported. And then he watched the remnant, the few who lived through the siege, repeat the same errors! Again, they stubbornly spurned Jeremiah’s advice, and chose to live in disobedience to God. And through it all, Jeremiah wept. He wept over the sins of his people; he wept over his own mistreatment; he wept over the punishment of God.
I claim to be patriotic; I’ve been an Air Force dependent all but five years of my life. I vote every year in spite of the pain it is to register in a new state each time we move. My heart swells with pride at the sight of the American flag, and I love nothing more than seeing an entire Air Force base come to a standstill every evening when the National Anthem is played over the loudspeaker. But am I truly a patriot? Do I love my country enough to spend even fifteen minutes praying for it each day? Do I teach God’s Word in its totality, not skimming over the difficult passages that are harder for people to swallow? Am I willing to risk my popularity by standing for biblical values in today’s largely anti-biblical culture? Do I weep as Jeremiah did over my sins and the sins of my country? Or am I too busy obliviously enjoying the material provision and relative peace of this great country to even pay attention to the signs of God’s impending judgment?
Oh Lord, on this Election Day, I ask forgiveness for my own sins and for the sins of my country. I pray that I would daily remember that Jesus is the only true answer to my country’s struggles, and “that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).”