Last evening President Obama gave his first speech before a joint session of Congress. I hesitated to listen, but decided that I needed to hear his plans for our nation's recovery from this financial debacle we have created. Not since the days of Ronald Reagan have we heard someone who can sway the masses by his rhetoric. As I listened to President Obama I thought to myself, "If only he were trying to convince people to become followers of Jesus Christ." But, alas, that was not his message.
As I later began to sift through what he said - and I absolutely refuse to listen to those media "talking heads" who think they have it all figured out - I came to the conclusion that what the President really wanted the American people to do was to trust him. He would provide the way of escape from our difficult times. He had the answers for the catastrophic problems that confront us. He wanted to be the leader, along with the members of Congress, to right the faltering ship of state.
Should I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, place my confidence and trust in my nation's governmental leaders to resolve the crisis we are in? And I began to ponder just who the President was asking me to put my confidence in. First, he asked that I trust him. Has he had any experience of leading a business through a crisis time? Has he ever worked with a nonprofit organization to help it to find footing in uncertain times? Has he ever had to file a business report or create a budget for a business that was nearing the brink of bankruptcy? Has he ever had to lay off staff and employees because the funds simply were not there? Has he ever had to sit down with a bank president to formulate a loan for a small business?
Second, he asked me to have confidence in the members of Congress. Now that is a scary proposition. As the television cameras panned the House Chambers last night, I recognized faces that I have seen in those Chambers dating back to the 1970's. They have become professional politicians. They are so far removed from knowing what the real world is like. Have they ever faced the threat of cancellation of health insurance because they could no longer afford the premiums? Have they ever had their salaries slashed and benefits curtailed because of budget shortfalls? When was the last time they were gainfully employed in a real job that demanded 8 hours a day or longer? When was the last time they were told that they would be furloughed for several weeks without pay?
These are the people who have answers for those of us who are presently experiencing health insurance premiums which we can no longer pay; salaries which have been cut and benefits which have been curtailed; and unpaid furloughs from work if we want to keep our jobs. I don't believe that too many of the politicians inside the Washington Beltway truly understand the pain we are experiencing. But, they will not come up with the solutions. We just have to trust them.
I am reminded of the closing verse of the second chapter of Isaiah. It reads: "Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?" What this ancient prophet is saying is this: Why should we put our confidence in the plans of men? After all he cannot even control the number of breaths he takes." If the prophet were here on this 25th day of February 2009, I think he would advise us to put our confidence and trust in the Lord. To draw our encouragement from His Word and not from governmental initiatives. To receive hope for our tomorrow through a commitment to His promises and not from those delivered by politicians.
I think I probably would have derived more hope from President Obama's speech last night if he had been as honest as was the ancient King Jehoshaphat, when confronted with a crisis of similar proportions. "We don't know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chronicles 20:12). I believe God has a solution...but our leaders are certainly not calling upon Him for directions. "There is a way that seems right unto man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12). We certainly are living the first part of that proverb...hopefully it will not result in the consequences recorded in the last part.
It was Andre Crouch who wrote these words many years ago. They still speak encouragement to my heart: "Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God; through it all, through it all, I've learned to depend upon His Word."