Tomorrow, South Africans from all walks of life will line up at polling stations to vote for the men and women they want to see lead them over the next few years.
Anyone who knows the history of South Africa knows that it’s a nation with a difficult past and with many complex challenges still to overcome. The country’s economy is a matter of concern. On one hand, the private sector is keeping a close eye on things to see if the environment is a profitable one for investment. On the other, there is a restlessness amongst formerly oppressed communities who demand swifter and more decisive change. Sadly, that change is not always forthcoming in a nation where scandal after scandal is unearthed, exposing the corrupt dealings of the very people that were meant to make life better for so many.
After the fall of the apartheid era, it felt like a new dawn had come for South Africa. The feeling in the air was that we’d seen the birth of a shining light – the Rainbow Nation, a place of hope for all who live in it. The events of the past few years, however – the rise in violent crime, joblessness and poverty, the scourge of HIV and AIDS, against the backdrop of serious leadership failure – have all contributed to many questioning what the future holds for South Africa. Opposition party leaders exclaim boldly from podiums, making the claim that their policies can make things better. “Vote for me,” they say, “and I’ll make sure that all your troubles will go away”. Could it be, though, that it’s not as simple as all that?
South Africa’s election day provides a very timely opportunity for deep reflection. Are the things we see happening around us unique to the nation, or are they merely a snapshot of the overall human condition? As humans, we are capable of scaling great heights and developing amazing technologies. When we apply our minds, we can achieve astounding feats. But sometimes we need to realise that many of our problems are just a reflection of the state our hearts. All people – even the most charming of politicians – have issues that need to be resolved at a level deeper than election manifestos and promises. There’s no question that we must pray and ask God for peace and a trouble-free voting and counting process. It’s also important that we pause to remember that God has made certain promises too and perhaps we should internalize the implications of those promises on our individual lives.
Through His son Jesus Christ, God extends His hand to humanity to make the promise of helping us deal with the inner struggles we face at the soul level. It’s no quick fix, mind you. Jesus went as far as to guarantee that we would face all kinds of troubles in this world. Yet, despite the trouble, He offers life and hope. That hope is not dependent upon who’s in power or what policies have been implemented or not. It’s a relationship with Him that shapes us and enables us to navigate life, with all its hurts, troubles and disappointments. Choosing Christ as a saviour is a choice, much like an election. Yet, its implications are far greater. Leaders and systems may come and go but God promises that His love for us remains forever.
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