When Hate Is Strong and Mocks the Song …


     Three years ago (Dec. 2017) was the last time I saw my granddaughter in person.
On that day, it was clear to me I would never see her again.
     I didn’t know that eventually, my son and his estranged wife (who had custody of their child) would eventually become very good and mutually supportive friends (better than so many married couples), deeply committed to co-parenting their daughter. That is a beautiful story of God’s mercy, their humility, and a picture of our ultimate reconciliation. Though they live across an ocean on another continent, I will see her again one day. She has such a good mom, she gets to see her dad, and she is flourishing. I know this now.
     But I didn’t know that then. Believing that our connection was very likely permanently severed, I felt the despair of shattered hope and the sorrow of one who mourns the death of our dreams as grandparents. I felt exhausted and speechless and the only pin-prick of light in my darkness was the solace of the Psalter, especially David’s raw songs of lament and anger and defeat.

In Despair

     I felt that despair creep in again last weekend. It happened as I read horrifying reports of the six-hour political-religious event dubbed “the Jericho March,” where Christ’s name was used to promote lies, incite violence and overtly proclaim, “We have to align our spirituality to our politics.”
     I don’t want you to share my despair about this. For those who need to fact-check… Rod Dreyer’s articles on this show of “God told me” militant, nationalistic charismania can be read here and here in The American Conservative.
     Note, Dreyer is not a Democrat on the left decrying Republicans on the right. He is a political, social and Christian conservative battling a dangerous blasphemy. “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace. . .” 
     As I said, I don’t want you to share my despair. That’s not what this post is about. We’ll get there.
     But I am crestfallen. I feel utterly powerless. The darkness is too much. I don’t feel anger or outrage or the pseudo-energy of zeal for what is right. The deception is complete and there’s nothing I can do about it. Pray maybe? What for?
     Find me a pothole to curl up in and where I can give up. Maybe hate does win.
     It doesn’t really matter to me who wins elections in other countries. What matters is when “the name of God is blasphemed among the nations because of you” (see Romans 2:24). It felt like the Jericho March was a significant final blow to faith in America and beyond. The Great Deconstruction needs no further justification. And to press home the point, another dear friend wrote to announce his departure from Christianity.

Then I Heard the Bells

     In that mental, emotional and spiritual state, when even my “Lord, have mercy” prayers were empty tires going nowhere, I overheard someone cite an old hymn. I knew the title: it was Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” I read that it was written during America’s last civil war. But didn’t really know the lyrics. They came like balm … or that same starry pinprick I found three years ago in the Psalms. They didn’t solve anything, as such. But there it was. Light in the darkness of our culture and in my own wearied heart.
     Find me a womb to curl up in and where I can look up. Maybe love does win.
     I leave these lines with you, in case you need to hear them too:
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
But the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on earth)
Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men


Picture of Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak

Bradley Jersak is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. Read More