I learned a new word today… “Magnanimity”
I still receive email updates from the president of Samford University, Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, even though Julia graduated from there over two years ago (I’m sure there’s some way to “opt-out,” but honestly I like to keep up on what’s happening on their campus). This most recent update was about the COVID response at Samford and some thoughts about this week’s election.
Here is what Dr. Westmoreland wrote around the election:
“Practice humility if your candidate is victorious. If things go the other way, a little magnanimity would be in order.”
I know what humility is, but not sure I’ve ever heard of magnanimity… here is what it means:
“loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity.”
I love that! It may be my new word for 2020. If there ever has been a time when we needed to be magnanimous people, it is now. We have all faced trouble – for almost eight months we have been caught up in a worldwide pandemic which doesn’t seem to be relenting anytime soon… the summer was a flashpoint of frustration over racial injustice which continues today… and we have an election this week which has been very polarizing and contentious.
Families have been forced to convert their homes into offices and classrooms. While there are some very wonderful things about being together… sometimes too much being together can just be too much. Everyone has experienced some type of loss – most notably the loss of a loved one. Many have missed out on birthday or graduation celebrations. Lots of students have lost out on the expectations of their senior year. Vacations have been canceled. Some have lost jobs; others have lost homes. And maybe most of us have lost some hope.
So, how do we experience “loftiness of spirit” in the midst of troubling days? It’s not just “having a good attitude” or “looking on the bright side of things”… it requires a deep trust in God to calmly face our troubles. This is a change that only the Spirit of God can bring about.
Ultimately it means that I place my trust in the character and sovereignty of God. God is good. He is present with me. He is in control.
On the night Jesus was betrayed he said this to his disciples:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
The disciples were facing very uncertain days in Jerusalem. There was a tension in the air… and sure enough, Jesus would be arrested later that night. They would watch him be mistreated by the Jewish and Roman authorities and then crucified. They needed to hold on to those words, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And then, three days later… RESURRECTION!
Jesus Christ overcoming sin and death is a shot of adrenaline for the soul. I need to experience the resurrection of Jesus every day. When the resurrection power of Jesus connects with my soul, then I can experience peace where there is upheaval, hope where there is despair, joy where there is sorrow, and love where there is hatred… and then I can actually be a witness to the life-changing power of Jesus.
I know these are troubling days. My prayer for us is that we would trust Jesus to overcome our troubles and live as God’s people with resurrection empowered magnanimity.