"These things I call to mind and therefore I have hope"
Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:21
Lamentations is a very short book in the Bible tucked in between two very long works by a couple of doomsday prophets. It was probably written during the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (present day Iraqis) and as its title implies, the theme was that of lament.
Translated into modern American English, this guy scarcely laid down his pen which had transferred the Words of the Hebrew God to parchment concerning the destruction of Judah, that he began to whine.
Far from an over dramatization given the realities he and his people were about to experience, he had a reason to feel a bit down in the dumps. The nation of Israel had enjoyed prosperity and good times - literally, the favor of God. However, they had strayed away from His directives and protection and were getting what they had coming-exile and judgment - just as God had promised them unless they turned around and came to their senses.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Are there any parallels to the place we as Americans find ourselves in today?
Turn on the television, pull up a blog or two on the internet or read the latest headlines. It doesn't even have to be the 700 club or Glen Beck or some marginal news publication - it could be something as main stream as the Wall Street Journal, a financial planning expert or even the speech given by the Republican nominee for President.
The facts are there on paper - in numbers not fabricated or exaggerated. As a nation, we are not better off than we were four years ago. Median incomes are down, unemployment is up, cost of living is up and the debt incurred by the government is WAY up and our status in the world has been shaken.
So why am I talking about hope?
Because like Jeremiah the prophet, something happened to me that brought back a memory which ignited a spark of hope. In Jeremiah's case, he recalled his experiential memory of God's character and mercy; as for me, I recalled a speech I had heard many years ago. (As an aside, it has been a long time coming - I haven't been inspired to write for a long time.)
Most conversations about politics and the future of America in our home have ended like Lamentations starts - a big whine - so I felt this was finally worth writing about.
When Marco Rubio got up to introduce the Republican nominee for President, I was attentive but not terribly expectant. As some of you know, I turned down the opportunity to serve as a delegate at this year's national convention for reasons which may or may not add to this discussion.
In a word, I have been frustrated with the political process and disappointed in some of the players on both the local and national scenes. However, Rubio was Reaganesque enough that night last week to take me back to another speech at another Republican National convention and to stir the dying embers of hope for the future.
The year was 1964 and a young Ronald Reagan on behalf of a candidate for President with a philosophy as solid as a rock and as Republican as anyone in history. Reagan went on to give a speech that came from his heart and would literally become the basis for conservatives in every era to use as a launching pad for the propagation of the message of America.
When he got off the platform to thunderous applause, there was hardly a person in the room or a listener ever after who didn't have the thought that perhaps they had nominated the wrong man for the job!
Although it's well known I'm not a big fan of the Republican nominee this year, that is not my point today. It is simply this - Yesterday Ronald Reagan lived and articulated the bedrock of our party - the foundations of this country and carried the dream until his time came to lead.
Last week Marco Rubio a son of a Cuban immigrant with humble beginnings took the stage and ignited hope in people like me who needed reminders about the things that made this country "the world's last best hope." It is still the best hope as a place for future leaders to get started on the road to fulfilling their destinies as his own experience confirms.
He is down to earth, passionate and personal - living proof that the establishment doesn't always win.
I plan to follow with an entry in my "Voices of Freedom" series about his life and career and more about why he and others like him give me hope.
So I am thankful today for the decisions which put this young American on the stage and for what it called to my mind - the memory of one of the greatest leaders to hold the office of President in this country.
It is these things I can call to mind - and so I too have hope.