I admit to facing the year ahead with some trepidation. Not so much on a personal or local level, but nationally and internationally. Having felt strongly that the UK should remain in the European Union, I’m already weary of the constant news headlines about Brexit negotiations. And it feels like salt rubbed in the wound again and again. And it will go on and on and on…
And many on both sides of that Brexit debate, like me, fear that America and the world will become more divided, more unjust and more volatile under the Trump presidency just beginning.
However, I was comforted listening to Canadian writer and journalist Malcolm Gladwell on Radio 4 yesterday. I don’t know much about the man, but he spoke amusingly and with great insight about Obama and Trump. He shared many of my fears about how things would turn out over the next few years. But the point I remember most was a very simple one. It all fits into a bigger story – part of history unfolding. If Trump turns out to be as divisive and unpleasant as many fear, the American people will not accept it for long and the legacy will be that such divisive politics will be ‘put to bed’ for many years.
Whether or not he is right about the long term effect, and whether or not we are right about Trump, does not affect the simple but key principle that every bit of history fits into a larger story. We have every right, and sometimes a responsibility, to argue passionately for a particular outcome on an issue or in an election. But none of us are all seeing, nor can we be sure how things will work out in the long term. Hindsight is never there when you need it!
And, as my aunt used to say: “There’s so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, that it ill behoves any of us to criticize the rest of us.”
Meaning, for me and 2017, that good things may come from both Brexit and Donald Trump. And not just because of history and experience. But because of God. Who has the big picture. Who invites us to work and pray with him. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that Jesus taught us to pray for the coming of that kingdom.
The God we know in Jesus shares our pain and frailty and mistakes and compassion and joy and genius and humdrum reality. He shapes it all into the means by which his kingdom comes: one more chapter in the big story that is working out and makes sense of all our stories. And it ends well. As Mother Julian of Norwich heard Jesus say in a vision she had in the 14th century: “So all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Have a great year!