Sunday, June 12, 2016

Of Orlando, Presidential Elections, Baylor, Hibiscus, and Lamentations

We have this bush outside our garage. I think it is a hibiscus, but I could be wrong. I am not much of a botanist.

Gena cuts it back to almost nothing every fall. It looks like a few dead branches for months and months. Then spring comes, and it bursts forth in green sprigs that go every which way, and I sometimes wonder why we have it at all. Just yesterday, it was not blooming. It was just a mess of green.

(OK, I will get back to that bush in a minute.)

The news is not pretty these days. This morning's senseless massacre of partiers in Orlando dominates the news, pushing to the next page the lingering fallout from the sexual assaults and following actions and inactions on the campus of my alma mater.

We face a presidential election characterized with a new set of rhetoric not seen in my lifetime. Not displaying just the vitriol that I have written about before and that has been all too commonplace, this election cycle has added a whole new level of negativism and bitter sky-is-falling wailing. I know very few people who are adamantly supporting their candidate of choice; I know many more who are adamantly opposed to the other candidate at almost any cost. And I know many, like me, who have no idea for whom they will vote in November.

Discouragement is the emotion of the day. Calamity and crisis are, according to my Facebook feed, around every corner. It appears that the sky really is falling.

And then, this morning, that annoying bush had burst forth with three bright red flowers, striking and beautiful and very much in my face. Suddenly, I see buds on it everywhere, and I know that tomorrow promises more and bigger and redder blooms. I start remembering something about new mercies every morning.

While accusations and finger-pointing have continued ad nauseam in political campaigns and in the news articles about Baylor, these tendrils have grown. Literally, while victims were dying in the early morning hours, these blooms were opening.

I don't know what you do with new-every-morning reminders that God is on the throne, but I offer this: God has not given up on His world. Rain is still falling, and flowers are still growing. Caterpillars are still spinning their cocoons, and butterflies will still emerge. Earth will continue to make its revolutions around the sun.

I do not mean to be simple. In fact, I mean just the opposite.

There is a lot to mourn, and God mourns with us. There is a lot to address and to fix, and God works with us. There is a lot to be ashamed of and to confess, and God hears us and forgives.

But try as we might, we cannot take over. We cannot affect the cycles of the world. That darn flower is going to bloom in spite of us.

In some very old-fashioned words, it is said this way: I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning: Great is Thy Faithfulness.