Locust Days

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten —
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm —my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.”

Joel 2:25-26

Although we live in a society that does, and has always, valued youth above all, there are certain advantages to having made more than a few trips around the sun. One of these is learning appreciation, albeit later in the day than would have been preferable, of how the life experiences of previous generations serve not only as their “living history,” but can also be applied to today. The lessons that should have been learned, and often were learned, long ago are now unfortunately far too often discarded in favor of attempting to yet again reinvent the wheel. There is a better way, but looking around gives the firm impression it is an utter mystery to modern people. 

Back in my parents’ day, which saw them in their childhood fighting the Great Depression and in their teen/young adult years fighting World War II, politics was as much a rough-and-tumble bareknuckled business as is presently the case. However, there was one noticeable difference between then and now. Those in Washington and various state capitals/local power centers/etc. would and did fight like terriers from 9 to 5. Yet after work they would go out together for drinks and socialization, setting aside political differences in favor of that which was more important. Namely, being human beings treating each other in the same manner that they wished to be treated.

Those days have for the most part sadly disappeared in our present era, where actively practicing the politics of personal destruction has become the norm. Vicious direct attacks against any and all who dare to differ one iota from cherished beliefs, then squealing like a stuck pig crying “racism,” “sexism,” and whatever else you can come up with -ism (translation: petulant butthurt) whenever somebody breathes so much as a word against you, or has the unmitigated gall to respond in the same brute impersonal manner that the original messenger put forth, is now standard operational procedure. Actual politicians, those who make discussing same vocation or avocation; same methodology. Snark for me, not for thee. There are occasional exceptions. For example, the late Supreme Court justice school Antonin Scalia and his counterpart Ruth Bader Ginsberg were close friends. Unfortunately, one seldom sees Sarge and Fillmore in the same frame anymore.

Truth remains constant regardless of what any given generation holds dear. One of these truths is hoping everyone sooner or later has their own ‘and I will go sailing no more’ moment. At said moment, they accept as fact they are who they are and things are as they are with no consideration given to what one wishes or believes him or herself to be, or anything on or above this planet might be. Also at said moment, hope rises that humanity will lay claim to an individual by pressing on their heart that politics is a foolish blood sport when we all share the same blood.

Part of accepting things as they are is coming to grips with the truth that life can, and far more often than not does, hurt two ways: deeply and frequently. In a world of death and divorces and broken promises and unjust job terminations and unpayable bills, it can and ofttimes does appear the glittering promises of faith, Jesus pleasing us with love from above, that so many of us embraced during our heady days of youthful zeal were and are nothing but lollipop dreams in a cotton candy sky. This is the tipping point where more than a few angrily walk away, offering no genuine alternative save their own boring bitterness as they forever nurse a grudge against the God they no longer believe exists because the smile they were told ought to be perpetually worn made for a lousy umbrella against life’s merciless vicissitudes. Even when not taken to this extreme, when the locust days descend we’re not looking for someone to tell us it’ll be all better sometime in the next fifty nine years. We want relief now. Because we need it. Now.

Even as it is a pernicious lie that all ideological and/or philosophical and/or policy battles must be fought on a personal level, it is utterly untrue that being left out in the cold rain and snow of life means either there is no God or He has stepped out for an extended lunch so please leave a message and maybe He’ll get back to you. We are told God is, well, God. And He is. We forget to see the same God as He was one day long ago, a beaten, bloody, broken body being executed via being nailed to a cross. It is not that God neither cares nor is preoccupied when we are being pounded from all sides. He knows suffering. He extends a nail-pierced hand and says, “Come.” He does directly comfort in ways the world can and will never understand. And He does remind us all things on earth are bound together by an omnipresent thread stating this, too, shall pass. 

The locust days can hover and smother for weeks, months, years, even decades, seemingly eating us alive. But they will end. Those forever marinating in vapid political squabbles are missing so much. The other person is also a person of value even as each of us is a person of value, not a thing to demolish. Each of us is inexorably joined with each other regardless of left and right, party and practice. How do we respond? Do we continue to drive division and hatred? Or do we resolve to throw away our endless pathetic excuses? Onto those following either path the locust days will descend. We must choose whether to acquiesce and crumble … or ascend and conquer in Christ.