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Columnists Remarkable Providences

Crisis and punishment

Crisis and punishment

What is God trying to teach us through electoral results?

For Newsweek columnist and novelist Joe Klein, the bottom line of last week's election was this: "There are problems in America, but no crisis."

Sixty years ago Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his second inaugural address, said, "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." FDR saw a crisis, and he was right--but he added, "It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope--because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice of it, proposes to paint it out."

Today, one-third of American children are growing up fatherless, nearly illiterate, and oppressed by crime or drugs. How can there not be a crisis?

In 1775 Patrick Henry used biblical language to criticize those who cried "'peace, peace'--but there is no peace." This year, many politicians preferred happy talk to a more accurate portrayal of grave danger and real hope, but the sleepy campaign should not lull us.

No crisis? Tell it to the children who live in the war zones our inner cities have become. Tell it to the children in broken suburban families.

Tell it to counselors at crisis pregnancy centers who see women devastated by abortion and the knowledge of unborn children cut into pieces.

There is a better explanation of last week's election results than Joe Klein and other columnists offered.

Martin Luther once said, "When God wishes to punish a people or a kingdom, he takes away from it the good and godly teachers and preachers, and bereaves it of wise, godly, and honest rulers and counselors, and brave, upright, and experienced soldiers, and of other good men."

Are we being punished? Let's start at the top. Look at how Bill Clinton--corrupt in his personal life, corrupt in the way he surrounds himself with sub-rulers and counselors as prideful and morally obtuse as himself, corrupt in his support for child-killing and many other evils--has been elected twice, each time facing candidates who made his task easy by losing their compasses.

Look at the Supreme Court, where Justice Anthony Kennedy flipped at a crucial time and facilitated the killing of more unborn children. Look at the universities, where good and godly teachers are rare.

Look at those churches where babble has replaced Bible. Look at the military, where some brave, upright, and experienced soldiers have resigned in disgust.

We like to talk about God's providence when good things happen to the good people we think we are. But as Job told his wife, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

What is God teaching through this election?

That we need to pray more and ask him for mercy? Undeniably.

That this nation under God desperately needs revival and reformation? Surely.

That we should give up on politics? I think not. The elections this year provided an excellent example of the way Christians can be salt and light in this domain as in so many others.

If Christians had not been politically active, the Clinton administration would now be unchecked by a Republican Congress, and we would have four more years of cover-ups.

If Christians had not been politically active, we would not have promising new senators like Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas and Sam Brownback of Kansas. Many of the first-term, biblically oriented House members would have been defeated.

If Christians had not been politically active, we would have decreased opportunity to promote the general welfare in a way that will give true hope to that tortured third of America's children.

Franklin Roosevelt painted his picture with the assumption that governmental action could eliminate poverty. We have learned that this does not work, and we now have time to show what will work.

We are under judgment, but God has not left us bereft. We have crisis--and opportunity.

We have the opportunity to develop and expand publications that tell the truth about our national crisis.

We have the opportunity to develop and expand Bible-based programs that offer challenging compassion to long-term welfare recipients and their children. Without such programs, the tortured third will continue to suffer, and defenders of failed programs can convincingly accuse their critics of spouting words without deeds.

Above all, we have the opportunity to turn to God, as a familiar passage from 2 Chronicles instructs us: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."