I pray that our leaders may be given wisdom – all of them. They are walking in unchartered waters. And they are making decisions that might be right, or might be wrong – we’ll only know after the fact. The decisions could save lives. Or it could cost lives. I don’t envy any of them. But I lift them all up in prayer – President Trump, Senate Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, both Democrat and Republican Members of Congress, Governors, state legislative leaders, public health officials, and more.
Decisions are going to be made soon – continue to hunker down in order to flatten the curve, as the phrase goes, but at great economic cost – maybe even a depression. Or to loosen restrictions so people can get back to work, potentially strengthening the economy, but at great potential health cost – possibly many deaths.
In Star Trek, there is something called the Kobayashi Maru. “The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet academy cadets in a no-win situation.” (Source)
This certainly feels like a no-win situation doesn’t it? Our leaders’ character have been tested and will continue to be tested. We are and will continue to see the core of who they are.
But this isn’t only about our leaders. This is about us too. Crisis shows our character as well. It reveals a great deal about who each of us are. The facade of who we want to portray ourselves as is stripped away in a crisis. All that is left is the real us. The real us in terms of what we truly believe, what we really value, what is really important to us. There’s no faking your way through a crisis. We don’t have that luxury. And neither do our leaders.
I have seen several news stories over the last week that have caught my attention from various new sources. In many cases these stories show the author’s partisan slant. Many of these stories are written to score political points. Our political leaders often speak in these ways too. And I wonder, how many of our people, and us specifically, listen for partisan talking points and to be able to point fingers and to scapegoat and blame. This tells me that the crisis is still fresh. Not enough time has passed yet for people to let go of the habit of partisan identity. It’s a strong idol that doesn’t let go easily. And that identity comes with a cost – most likely the cost being that the crisis lasts longer than it has to. Being right might feel good, but it is destructive and costly.
We’ve gone from the shock of the restrictions placed upon us to coping now. Uncertainty remains as decisions are yet to be made. Finding a new routine and a new normal are starting to settle in. And the questions resounds – what is the cost? What is the financial cost? What is the health cost? What is mental health cost?
But there is another set of questions that we should be asking – where do we see God in the midst of this? What is God calling us to right now? What is the cost of our discipleship right now? How does the theology of the cross speak to us now?
These may not seem like relevant questions – but really, they are more relevant now than ever. Theology and faith are at their best in times of crisis. Jesus did the work he had to do – the work he set out to do – in times of crisis. He healed the sick and outcast at great cost to himself. He raised the dead. He confronted the leaders of the Temple. He cleared out the money changers out of the Temple. He willingly went to death. It was costly. And it was in that cost that we more fully understand Christ – the cruciform God who saves. The incarnate God who suffers with us.
There is a cost to the decisions being made – both by our leaders and by us. Often the cost can not be calculated. And often the cost goes way beyond dollars and cents. And it should.
I pray that our leaders may use the wisdom they are given for the benefit of all people.