Isaiah 60: 17-18 Instead of bronze I will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron. Instead of wood I will bring you bronze, and iron in place of stones.
I will make peace your governor and well-being your ruler. No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.
I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp in 1997 on my first trip to Europe. It was so painful to see the pictures of men and women rescued from certain death. As I looked at the portraits of humans’ inhumanity to other humans, I wondered if that capacity for tremendous hate and indifference to the suffering of others was a trait that all humans possess.
There wasn’t a dry eye on the tour bus, as we drove out of that horrific place. Adult men and women cried and tried to process how something so heinous could even be possible, even in times of war. Yet, hate-fueled by rhetoric has been instrumental in historic cases of mass injustice from time immortal.
I imagine that many people who endured the bombing of cities during WWII thought that the world was coming to an end, that nothing would ever be normal again. They must have wondered if evil would win over good, and that if no salvation would ever come from the Lord.
And yet, to walk the streets of London, Paris, Munich, Berlin, and other European cities, one can’t even fathom the devastation and destruction, the hunger and starvation, or the immense loss of lives of that time period. There are museums that catalogue the past that one can visit, but buildings have been rebuilt and economies thrive with Starbucks and McDonalds and Pizza Huts on nearly every corner. It’s almost like you never left America. A better day came, eventually.
There is not much best-of-times in America today. I may be overly sensitive, but it feels as though we are living in the midst of the craziest times in American history, with the violence in cities, the horrors of the coronavirus, and racial tensions. Each day, the news gets wilder and more depressing, and it seems as if we are experiencing all of this hellstorm without a government that works according to the dictates and expectations of the Constitution of the United States.
I would be depressed beyond hope if I didn’t believe that good will always win and that light will ultimately overcome the darkness, and that we will call our walls Salvation and our gates Praise, as promised by the God who made the heavens and the earth. I have this belief, even as my state experiences the highest rates of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.
Looking at my beloved Europe and its recovery from WWII boost my faith that a better day is a-coming, not just in America but around the world. But, salvation that leads to praise and glory for God will always entail good people working together to diminish the hate and inhumanity of evil ones. The people of God must be part of the solution, helping to bring about the change we want to see.