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National Guard troops sleeping in the Capitol: Finding transcendent hope in hard days

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Sleeping National Guard Troops at the Capitol
Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Here’s a sign of the times: hundreds of armed National Guard troops slept on the floor of the US Capitol Tuesday night. Under their protection yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

He is now the first president in US history to be impeached twice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he will not reconvene the Senate early, delaying the start of the impeachment trial until January 19 at the earliest. 

While the first trial was decided virtually on party lines, this time could be different as several Republican senators have voiced their intent to vote for impeachment. 

Chuck Colson was right 

If people thought changing the calendar would put the challenges of 2020 behind us, they were wrong. So far, we have seen our worst day of COVID-19 deaths yet. Mortuaries in Southern California are overwhelmed and have little space for bodies. Economic challenges are continuing as well, along with threats from China, Iran, and Russia. 

This week, a radio interviewer asked me the simple question: Where can Christians find hope in these hard days? Let’s begin with where we should not base our hope. 

We have learned in the last year that medical science, for all its contributions to our lives, cannot prevent new viruses or protect us from all existing diseases and disasters. Technological advances cannot prevent the spread of digital misinformation, conspiracy theories, and pornography. Political leaders and parties cannot solve all the challenges of our fallen world and sometimes make them worse. 

Chuck Colson was right: The kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One, no matter who is occupying it. 

Reading for thirty-one years without stopping 

The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the political and racial turmoil of our day, proves our need for a physician who can heal our bodies and souls. Francis Collins knows where we should look. 

Dr. Collins is head of the National Institutes of Health. He also led the project that mapped the human genome, making possible the genetic breakthroughs that led to the coronavirus vaccine. In an essay on God and the human genome, he explains that DNA, the instruction book of all living things, is made up of a series of chemical bases abbreviated as A, C, G, and T. 

How many of these base pairs does it take to provide the information for a human? Dr. Collins: “If we were to read it out loud, without stopping, it would take thirty-one years. We have all that information inside each cell of our body.” 

Who made all of that? 

“By Jesus all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16). He launched his public ministry by “healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23). He forgives sins (Matthew 9:2), calms storms (Matthew 8:26), and restores souls (John 21:15–19). 

And all he has ever done, he can still do today (Hebrews 13:8). 

“The man in a white robe” 

The political turmoil of our day proves our need for a movement that can transcend our divisions and bring us into community for the common good. 

In his excellent book The Case for Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural, Lee Strobel interviews my friend Tom Doyle, a longtime missionary in the Middle East. Tom tells of a remarkable phenomenon: Muslims seeing a vision of Jesus in a white robe. He tells them he loves them, died for them, and wants them to follow him. This has happened so many times that Christian outreach groups in Egypt took out ads in the newspapers asking, “Have you seen the man in a white robe in your dreams? He has a message for you. Call this number.” 

As Tom explains, 50 percent of Muslims around the world cannot read, so Jesus is reaching them through visions and dreams. (For more, see his inspirational book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?

If Jesus can reach Muslims, cannot American Christians reach other Americans? 

Whatever a person’s party or political opinions, we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Whatever wrong someone does to us, we are to  “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). 

Our hope is in Christ. That hope is made manifest and compelling when we share it with someone today. 

A rector who repairs bikes 

Robbie Pruitt is an assistant rector at Church of the Holy Spirit in Leesburg, Virginia. He is also the subject of a remarkable profile in the Washington Post

Someone stole his mountain bike off the rack of his Honda Odyssey last September. He realized that the thief might have stolen the bike because they’re in short supply during the pandemic. So Pruitt, who has been riding and repairing bikes since he was a child, announced that he would fix anyone’s bicycle for free. He also said he was accepting unwanted bikes which he would fix and donate to people in need. 

By the end of the year, he had repaired more than 140 bicycles, donating 60 percent of them and returning the rest to their owners. He especially focuses on supporting children and families who are struggling. 

Pruitt says, “You’re certainly providing a service, but it’s not the bikes. It’s the relationships in the community. It’s the impact you can make with people.” 

Whose “bike” will you repair today?