The resignation of New York's governor is sobering. He isn't the first politician to stumble in that way, and probably won't be the last. Jesus' stern words to the woman taken in adultery and the account of King David and Bathsheba remind us that people through the ages have struggled and suffered deeply from such behavior.
There are many aspects to these biblical accounts, but the account of David's ongoing one-on-one relationship with God teaches us how divine mercy corrects, guides, and supports one through such very difficult times. What's encouraging in light of the former governor's expressed desire to continue to serve humanity in some way is that David's contribution to his people didn't end as a result of his actions. Also, the ex-governor's recognition that he and his family need healing can stir us to pray in support of that desire as well as on behalf of all who are in public office and dealing with various types of temptation.
This psalm seems to capture the burden of temptation, whatever form it takes, and also offers the remedy: "My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word" (Ps. 119:28). Individuals who choose to serve their fellow citizens can be benefited by our compassion for the heaviness of their souls when tempted, and also our recognition of God's readiness to strengthen them in time of need. This strength is spiritual, and lifts them above the weight of public opinions and prejudices. It also affirms their inseparable relation to God, who gives both intelligence and wisdom for every task.
Through the spiritual discipline we gain from doing this kind of praying, it becomes easier to leave behind a personal sense of our politicians and to perceive their nature in the highest spiritual sense – as Jesus did the people he encountered. Mary Baker Eddy brought out this point in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals.... Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy" (pp. 476-477).
In today's media-saturated environment, it's easy to see the "sinning mortal man" as the same news story broadcast again and again. But to truly help those caught up in some trouble, even if it's of their own making, our prayers need to respond to the individual behind the "mask" – who may look very cool while making a public statement but be horrified by what has happened. Right there is the spiritual man who has the same one-on-one relationship to God that David had and that we all have. And God is available to strengthen each one and lead him or her into the paths that will bring peace.
One other helpful thought we can have for our leaders is the conviction that their spiritual nature is already established and can't be swayed by a morbid fascination with sin. Sometimes those who combat sin most vigorously are snared by it just because they spend so much time thinking about the combat. But to be spiritual is to be able to perceive – at least to a degree – God's purity and love as the only reality for oneself and others.
This knowledge, combined with prayer, supports each individual's ability to resist temptation through the recognition that evil cannot operate or entice when goodness and mercy predominate in thought. And our prayers for our leaders – who are in the spotlight and under pressure a great deal of the time – will bless them and also ourselves.
Hear my cry, O God....
When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock
that is higher than I. Psalms 61:1, 2