Even the mighty Roman Empire fell. The people became complacent. They enjoyed their comfort. They assumed they would stay on top forever. Many times have I heard comparisons between ancient Rome and 21st Century America. Many times have I pondered where our nation is in its life cycle. By all appearances, we are on the downward slope.
These thoughts returned a couple weeks ago when I heard the news of Justice Scalia’s passing. The man who was arguably the staunchest defender of the plain meaning of the Constitution was gone. With him he took the last vestiges of hope that the balance of power on the Supreme Court will ever return to its rightward tilt. It is encouraging that the Republican senate has vowed to block any and all Obama nominees, but it is probably too little, too late. Unfortunately, electing a conservative president does not guarantee that a conservative justice will be appointed. John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter were all appointed by Republican presidents. Each of them turned out to be anything but conservative.
Now, let’s look at our choices for president in 2016. Odds are, come November, it will be a Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump showdown. On the one hand, we have the woman who defends Planned Parenthood; on the other hand, we have the man who defends Planned Parenthood. I won’t hold my breath waiting for The Donald to nominate someone even vaguely conservative. The remaining justices aren’t getting any younger, either. It is very likely that either Hillary or Donald will nominate three justices to the Court. Dare I say that the days of a living, breathing, evolving, malleable Constitution are here to stay.
We conservative Americans now find ourselves in an uncomfortable position, to say the least. We face an unprincipled government chosen by a largely unprincipled electorate. It is increasingly clear that we are a quickly-shrinking minority. Those of us who hold to a traditional—and rational—understanding of words are called out for our “hatred.” No longer are boys “boys” and girls “girls”. Now anyone can be what he/she/ze pleases. No longer is “marriage” marriage. Those of us who refuse to go along with the lunacy will not be tolerated.
Perilous times are coming. What can we do about it?
It is easy to get caught up in the frenzy – far too easy to worry about the future. I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25, “do not worry about your life . . . ” Instead, he tells us, in verse 33, “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
The fact is, even if the worst comes to pass, God will still take care of us. That is not to say everything will be rainbows and butterflies. God’s providence is not always measured in earthly comfort and success. I would even suggest that some of the greatest saints endured extremely difficult lives. St. Paul, author of much of the New Testament, spoke of a “thorn in the flesh” that was given to him to “keep him from being too elated.” When he begged the Lord to take the thorn away, he was told, “my grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
When we enter difficult times, it is easy to question God. Why would he allow us to suffer? Why won’t he remove us from peril? The answer is that he loves us too much to give us the easy path. The struggle has a way of purifying us. His power is made perfect in our weakness.
The decline of our Republic is a wake-up call. It is a reminder to us Christians that our primary citizenship is not here in the U.S.A. Rather, it is in the Kingdom of God. Earthly kingdoms will fall; hard times will come. God stepped out of heaven and suffered for our sake. There will be times when we are called to suffer for His.