It is the day after the US presidential election. Votes have been cast. The polls have closed.

At the time of writing, the results remain uncertain. We won’t know with any clarity until later in the week, perhaps later in the month, what this election means for the United States.

What I do know is that this election season has been exhausting. I am tired. I’m a lot of other things too — angry, hopeful, resilient, confused, and sad. But mostly, I am weary.

I’m weary because Covid cases are rising and I feel helpless to do anything about it.

I’m weary because a beautiful older woman in my social circles died of Covid last week and there are still people who refuse to wear masks or social distance.

I’m weary because regardless of who wins the election, there is a tension in the land that feels palpable and could very possibly erupt into rioting and violence.

And I’m weary because regardless of who inhabits the White House come January, it seems clear that America has some soul work to do. That the last four years have revealed some deep fractures in our society suggesting that we no longer share a common vision for what it means to be American.

So I’m weary . . . and I suspect you are too.

Sometime later this week, I imagine I will let myself feel the weight of the brokenness of our nation and the tears will flow. Not just a few stray drops of water dotting my check but uncontrollable sobs complete with wet tissues strewn all over my lap. The Old Testament prophets wept over Jerusalem (Jeremiah 9:1, 14:17) so maybe this is appropriate. Maybe it’s time we weep over the brokenness of our country too.

But after the tears dry up or I run out of tissue (whichever comes first), regardless of who wins, we will need to figure out how to live faithfully in our present circumstances. And it would seem that there are really only two choices – despair or hope.

So I’m going to choose hope. Not a pie in the sky hope that ignores the suffering and brokenness of our world. Not even primarily an anticipatory hope that clings to the conviction that because God is sovereign, we need not be afraid. (Although I confess I find this immensely comforting).

Instead, in this coming year, regardless of who holds political office, I plan to lean into what Cornel West refers to as participatory hope. A hope that is active, that contributes to the movement for the good, the beautiful, the just. A hope that participates in God’s work to bring redemption and healing to this broken world. A hope that compels us to look around and enter into the suffering of our communities with compassion and love. To stand with our black brothers and sisters in the work of racial justice, to advocate for immigration reform, to feed the hungry, to support healthcare workers and other first responders in the fight against Covid, to pray for our leaders, to come alongside those who are hurting, to treat those with whom I disagree with generosity of spirit, to love others as I want to be loved, and mostly, to attend more closely to the Spirit of God stirring in my soul and whispering,

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you . . .
For I am the Lord your God.”
Isaiah 43:1-3a

For in this world that seems uncertain and unpredictable, one thing does not change. The Lord loves righteousness and justice and invites us to do the same. Come what may, then, leaning into hope, an active and participatory hope that fosters in our communities that which is good and beautiful and just seems the right thing to do. May the Lord sustain us and strengthen us in hope!

Amanda W. Benckhuysen

Amanda Benckhuysen teaches Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her special interests include the Psalms, wisdom literature, and the classical prophets. An ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church, Amanda enjoys hiking and biking with her husband and two daughters.

16 Comments

  • Stan E Seagren says:

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –

    Emily Dickinson

  • “So where can we look for oneing in the political arena? Only within the confines of our own hearts. Politics—government—does not exist for itself and, if it does, that is precisely when it becomes at least death-dealing if not entirely evil. . . .In the end, politics is nothing more than an instrument of social good and human development. It is meant to be the right arm of those whose souls have melted into God.” (Joan Chittister quoted in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation today)
    I am hopeful because our brokenness is being exposed, so we can see it. Let it be an invitation to embody God’s fierce love and be reconciled. No quick fixes; instead, eternal life–God’s reign–here and now.

  • Jan Zuidema says:

    Balm for my soul. Thank you.

  • Melanie Scott says:

    Thank you. I needed this today.

  • Ria says:

    Music on repeat.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aNISuvsP5M&ab_channel=philipstopford
    Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
    I have called you by your name; you are mine.
    When you walk through the waters, I’ll be with you;
    You will never sink beneath the waves.
    When the fire is burning all around you,
    you will never be consumed by the flames

  • Jeanne Engeihard says:

    Beautiful! Thank you.

  • Jim Payton says:

    Weary … weeping … confused by and shocked at how fractured America is … you’ve well described where lots of us find ourselves today, too.

    I’m embracing the promise of Isaiah 43 with you … but right now the waters are awfully turbulent, the undertow so threatening … Lord, have mercy!

  • Jim Brink says:

    Amanda, thank you for the breath of fresh, faith-filled air which my tired soul requires this morning. Your hopeful words allow me to see the “prepared table before me” and to go on.

  • George Vink says:

    Thanks Amanda, a needed sharing of thoughts………mine.

  • Janice McWhertor says:

    Thank you Amanda. Your words help me.

  • Sara Vander Bie says:

    Thank you, Amanda. That “participatory hope” gives words to what I’ve been imagining for what could come next after this grieving.

  • Rowland Van Es, Jr. says:

    “The Lord loves righteousness and justice and invites us to do the same.” Trying to figure out how to put this love into action more going forward…

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