Like millions of people around the world, I watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama earlier this week with interest. Whether or not you agree with his positions on the issues and there–are many that concern me deeply–truly the world witnessed history in the making. Scanning the faces of those in the crowd, I saw a joy and happiness that parallel something I witnessed in South Africa when Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was elected.
In a previous blog penned just after the election of President Obama, I explained in detail the impact that Mandela’s rise to the highest office in the land had on black Africans–as well as on South Africa as a country. In short, as one black South African man told me with a smile that filled his face, “It is because we gained our human dignity, that’s why we can smile now.”
Syndicated talk show host, Albert Mohler, posted a prayer for President Obama in which he captures this sentiment felt by many black Americans who, likewise, feel for the first time that America is a country where anyone regardless of race can aspire to the highest office in the land. Here is a portion of Albert’s prayer:
Lord, we pray with thanksgiving for the joy and celebration reflected on millions of faces who never expected to look to the President of the United States and see a person who looks like themselves. Father, thank you for preserving this nation to the moment when an African-American citizen will take the oath of office and become our President.
Thank you for the hope this has given to so many, the pride emerging in hearts that had known no such hope, and the pride that comes to a people who have experienced such pain at the hands of fellow citizens, simply because of the color of their skin.
Father, we rejoice in every elderly face that reflects such long-sought satisfaction and in every young face that expresses such unrestrained joy. May this become an open door for a vision of race and human dignity that reflects your glory in our differences, and not our corruption of your gift.
I, too, am praying for President Obama. After all, scripture instructs us to pray for “kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to concur with Obama’s policies or positions on the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, or other areas of disagreement. The fact that I have convictions which differ from my president is all the more reason why I am compelled to pray for him to have a change of heart, for wisdom to lead us during difficult economic times, and to surround himself with wise counsel.