If the 19th century sage Ralph Waldo Emerson had a page on Facebook,
If the 19th century sage Ralph Waldo Emerson had a page on Facebook, perhaps his “favorite quotation” would be his own words: “Events are in the saddle and tend to ride mankind.” So wonders Jonathan Alter in the latest Newsweek cover story on President Obama, “America’s New Shrink” (March 2, 2009). Events really are in the saddle these days, aren’t they? Listening to the President in his primetime address to Congress and the nation this week was an exercise in checklisting— ticking off one by one the immense challenges facing our nation and our world. “Events in the saddle” indeed!
But the ancient prophets perennially reminded their audiences and readers to remember the Someone else who is also in the saddle. Stepping into that midnight palace of inebriated orgy, the elderly prophet Daniel interpreted to the petrified (and now sober) king the mysterious handwriting on the wall: “‘The Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. . . . The God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified’” (Daniel 5:21, 23). Hardly had those words been uttered, then the mighty empire of Babylon collapsed in the wee hours of that very morning. “Events are in the saddle”—but so is God!
And that is why I’m convinced we can face the future with confident hope and quiet assurance. The economic meltdown that is draining away the financial might of this civilization isn’t worth fearing. If God chooses to restore our financial viability for the sake of his kingdom and his mission on earth, then he will. If on the other hand, he chooses to allow the monetary hemorrhaging to bleed away our economic vitality for the sake of advancing his kingdom and mission on earth, then “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” Knowing his will is done on earth “even as it is in heaven” assures the one who trusts God that in our very present circumstances God is still achieving his ultimate purpose, and that all things are working together for good. “ . . . the complicated play of human events [“in the saddle”] is under divine control. Amidst the strife and tumult of nations, He . . . still guides the affairs of the earth.” (Education 178)
Then let us take both heart and courage! Christ reigns. And he is returning. There is room in the saddle for hope.