Do you know what hiraeth means?
It’s a longing, a desperate search for a place that doesn’t exist anymore, and maybe never did. When I was young, I felt it for the worlds between pages I held so dear – Narnia, Middle-Earth, the Ashtown estate. When I was older, I felt it for my worlds, the places I created but could never see or belong to. Now… my hiraeth is still with me, but it’s changed. Longing has become synonymous with grief, and I long, not for a world of fiction, but for the place my country used to be.
(Don’t panic – this isn’t a political post.)
Last week I sat on my parents’ bed, watching events unfold in my homeland and feeling the weight of a hundred lifetimes settle on my shoulders.
“How can we go back?” I asked.
How can we retake a country when so much evil has conquered it? How can we uphold righteousness, when corruption has infiltrated even the highest seats of power? Who am I, that I can stop it? What can I do but watch?
My parents didn’t answer. My parents didn’t know.
So we sat in the dark, in the silence, and I grieved. I grieved because I will never know the world my grandparents built for me. I grieved because I will never experience the kind of life my parents worked for me to have. I grieved because I am young, and my future was supposed to be bright – not swallowed in this cloud of fear and pain, this darkness. I grieved for my future children, to be brought into such a world as this.
I grieved, and I prayed, and the question swirled around and around in my head like an accusation of all my faults.
Who am I, and what can I do?
I am young, and small, and painfully inexperienced. Frail. Frightened. Helpless. Why did I have to be born into this age? Why couldn’t I have lived in a time when America truly was great – to have read the Federalist Papers as they were being published, or welcomed home the soldiers as they returned from World War II, or even just to have walked through town on a Saturday night without the ever-present fear of danger lurking the back of my mind?
Why, out of all the times I could’ve lived, did I have to live now? Now, when all I can do is exist? My existence is not enough. It never has been.
And yet, I see the flags in my town flying half-mast, and there, from the back of my heart, comes the whisper:
What a time to be alive.
Is this how the children of Israel felt, staring at the churning depths of the Red Sea as Pharaoh’s chariots thundered toward them?
And how lucky, how unutterably privileged my existence is, to be part of the generation God chose for such a time as this! How blessed I am to be alive during an age when history is being made, to watch it happen, to see the outcome, whether good or bad. How humbling, to know my peers and I will be raising the next Daniels, the next Esthers, the next Peters and Pauls and Josephs and Polycarps.
My heart no longer whispers. It roars—
WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!
I don’t understand what it means, and yet, when night falls and I ask myself again— Who am I, that I can stop the darkness? What can I do?
I know God in a world that rejects Him. Isn’t that enough?
This is my rebellion. This is what I’ll teach my children, and they will teach theirs. Our hope is not in bullets or bloodshed, a republic or a democracy, Trump, Biden, or any political group that promises a better world; I know they can’t give us one. My hope is in Jesus Christ, and how He changes us – individuals, mere people. My hope is in the Word of God, its power throughout history to make men stand up against evil, its power to create civilization out of barbaric societies, its power to turn murderers into missionaries.
My hope is in my testimony. My hope is in the people who come to Christ through the work He’s done in my life. My hope is in my existence, because He gave me that.
How do we go back? By feeding our hunger for truth. How do we go back? By evangelizing the world.
How do we go back?
By going forward.
I’m still small, and my fear remains. But I look around to see the church rising from her slumber, Christian warriors donning their armor and the forces of Good and Evil preparing for battle once more.
And again, I say– what a time to be alive.
The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.
The Lord is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.
Arise, O Lord,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men. (Selah)
~Psalm 9: 15-20