I wear a charm bracelet that was given to me during a period of significant illness. Each charm reminds me of a promise or choice that helped in the healing of my body, mind and spirit. One of those charms is an anchor inscribed with a cross. A friend gave me the charm with the imperative to anchor myself in Jesus. In the season of sickness, that anchor was contemplative prayer. Every time I prayed without words, I enacted my desire to relinquish my timeline to God, to trust that God would heal me, even though it did not happen as quickly as I wanted. In a season of being tossed by waves of discouragement, depression and doubt, I needed the reminder to hold on to Jesus.
I have not shared my political opinions the past year, during a contentious election cycle. But, now that we have chosen our 45th president of the United States, I feel compelled to ask those of us in the Christian community, especially those of us who are white, a question: Is the president-elect the anchor for us?
Trump ran his campaign on the promise that he will “Make America Great Again.” He tapped into the angst, pain and financial insecurity of many voters, especially white voters. For too long, those of us who are white have believed that life in America means security; I’m not sure that has ever been true, but there was a time when most white working class people could work a job that paid relatively well and lasted until retirement. The world has changed, and it is not the fault of immigrants to our nation. I am not an economist, but I venture a guess that building a wall between us and Mexico and banishing entire cultures or groups of people will not change the effects of the global economy on our nation. Nor will making it more difficult to trade with other nations make things better for us.
And yet, so many of us believe that Trump will indeed make America great again, that he will provide the jobs we desperately long for, that his presidency will make us feel safe. We have set our anchor in one man. This is a lot to ask of one man, working in a political system designed not to give power to any one person. Are we prepared to be disappointed when things do not change the way we hope?
What would it look like to set our hopes in Jesus rather than our president? What would it mean for Jesus to be our anchor? Jesus does not promise that life will always be secure for us. But, Jesus does promise that he is making all things well, that his Kingdom has been inaugurated on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus promises that one day all things will be made new. This is a hard promise to believe in when you’ve been unemployed for several years, when you are losing your spouse to dementia, when chronic pain eats not only at your body but also at your mind and spirit.
And yet, if we anchor ourselves in this promise, we have freedom to live differently – not afraid but full of hope. We have energy to work for justice for all people. We can open our arms wide to generosity with others.
For me, to trust Jesus as my anchor means that I pray, every day, “Jesus, I am afraid; I don’t feel secure. But, I know you are in charge. Please provide. Show me how I can live for you by helping others.” May it be so. Amen.
Rachel Young is the associate pastor of spiritual formation at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church, in Houston, Texas. She is married to Josh, who also serves on staff at Clear Lake Presbyterian as the director of contemporary worship and media.