For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning / Against everyone who is proud and lofty… - Isaiah 12:2 (NASB)
There will be a reckoning. That thought has been popping into my head a lot lately as I'm greeted, at least weekly, by a fresh outrage from the Trump administration. The timing of Trump's firing of James Comey yesterday is nauseatingly suspicious.
According to Google Search, one archaic definition of the word “reckoning” is “the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds.” That pretty much sums up my hope: I hope there are consequences to Trump’s dangerous, self-serving decisions.
There will be a reckoning. It's a vaguely Biblical phrase, but I know it as a movie quote from Cold Mountain, a film about the ravages of the Civil War on a small, mountainous town in North Carolina. In the film, there's a local band of hooligans that haven't gone to fight in the war themselves but who have, nevertheless, taken it upon themselves to provide their own brutal brand of law and order in the town, killing any able-bodied men who refuse to fight for the Confederacy and torturing their family members. After one particularly gruesome episode, Nicole Kidman's character, who's the daughter of the town missionary, looks the head hooligan in the eye and says, with great foreboding, "There will be a reckoning."
Of course, the idea of Earthly and eternal consequences of humans’ short-sighted and selfish decision-making is a recurring theme in the Bible. In Isaiah 2, the Prophet Isaiah warns his people that “a day of reckoning” (most translations read “a day of punishment”) is coming as a result of their “proud and lofty” behavior. This verse and others like it are both threatening to those in the wrong and supremely comforting to those who are being wronged.
Last week when the House GOP passed a health care bill that I believe will lead to the actual deaths of actual people who lose their coverage, I comforted myself with the thought: “there will be a reckoning when they run for office in 2018.” The Louisiana legislature is also on the verge of crippling the state with draconian cuts to education and health care because of their political games. I find myself thinking, “Don’t they know that there will be a reckoning? When they meet their Maker, how will they defend the decisions to deny medical care and education to vulnerable people?”
The problem is, whenever I think “there will be a reckoning for people who are proud and doing wrong,” am I not also being prideful? Thinking about the Earthly downfall or eternal damnation of people I don’t agree with politically, while comforting in the moment, only serves to make me judgmental and closed off. The increasing polarization of our society is well-documented, and I don’t think it’s had positive consequences for our United States. I don’t mean to suggest that our leaders’ actions don’t have very real consequences on peoples’ lives and that they shouldn’t be held accountable. However, I will be less anxious and more effective if I focus on my actions, my influence, and my service. I need to think about my own day of reckoning, and leave the humbling of the prideful to God.
What about you? Do you see a problem with an us vs. them mentality? Any tips on how to engage in ways that don’t further isolate our fellow countrywomen and men? I’d love to hear from you below.
Thanks for reading!