Densic: A lost soulWritten by Robert Densic | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There are days I wake up and think, “What next?” That sinking feeling that you are swimming upstream, forever fighting the currents of modern times is not new. Whether it is the latest news report of acts of terrorism abroad, or the efforts of some to fundamentally change that which you know to be true and honorable, the resulting feeling is familiar.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote the Old Testament book of Lamentations while witnessing the conquest of the Jewish people and his home city of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The original Hebrew lists the title of this book as “Ah, how” or “Alas,” indicating Jeremiah’s resignation to this fundamental change. In the translation to Greek the title changes to “Wailings.” Whatever the language, the meaning is the same — the fear of loss. Lost freedom. Lost heritage. Lost principles.
Jeremiah clearly was “wailing” at the loss of his city, his people, his heritage, but he sought and found comfort in his faith. He clearly identified the suffering as a direct result of the faults of himself and his people, “My sins have been bound into a yoke … they have been hung on my neck.” Yet he turned to the Lord as his source of strength and endurance. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him … ”
This belief and thought is not limited to biblical times or lands. During the founding years of our country, many leaders valued these same lamentations.
In 1774, as the first Continental Congress gathered, they called for an opening prayer. “O Lord our Heavenly Father … we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of our oppressor … desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. Be Thou present … and direct the councils of this honorable assembly … ” Fast-forward a few years, after a bloody war with the world’s most formidable army, and our own Declaration of Independence concludes “With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”
Thomas Jefferson, to whom some attribute atheist beliefs, said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Jefferson further echoed the thoughts of Jeremiah when he noted “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. The hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
Jefferson saw in the efforts of a British tyrant an attempt to separate us from our freedom by separating us from God. He was not alone. Patrick Henry in a passionate speech to his fellow Virginians said, “It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.” Benjamin Franklin in Pennsylvania warned, “Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants.” John Adams stated, “It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence.”
Abraham Lincoln during the depths of the American Civil War turned not to his party, his generals or his constituents, but to God. “I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.” Lincoln continued, directly attributing the scars of war to a loss of faith, “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all those blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
Early in the 20th century, President Calvin Coolidge and the country faced a continuing recession such as we do today. Coolidge not only worked to limit the size and scope of government, but he also sought to return America to that which made her great, her spiritual core. “We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
In the news of today, British Prime Minister David Cameron commented on the London riots. “Do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations? In this risk-free ground of moral neutrality, there are no bad choices, just different lifestyles. ‘Live and let live’ becomes ‘Do what you please.’” While the excuses of financial depression are soffered on the streets, Cameron points to the true cause, his countrymen’s loss of soul.
Noted author and theologian C.S. Lewis noted, “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” We must again find that soul within us and return to the innate principles hardwired into our very being, and turn not to a state made of fallen people, but return to that which has blessed us for so long.
The final book of the Christian Bible is Revelation. The Prophet Jeremiah was witnessing the revelation of the actions of man in his lamentations. Where Jeremiah provided a hope, Revelation provides a warning. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove the lamp from its place.” Without our lamp to guide the way, we will fail to be that shining city upon the hill, and instead tumble into darkness.
Email Robert Densic at letters@toledo freepress.com.