In 128 days we’ll have a new President of the United States of America. Unless events conspire to derail one or both of the current presumptive nominees, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will occupy that office.
Even as I write that I cringe. While both these candidates have their enthusiastic supporters, God bless them all, many can’t imagine life under either of these options.
- How will those who wouldn’t/couldn’t choose either of these candidates for this highest office view them once installed?
- How will those on the losing side of this election think of and interact with those in the politically opposing camp?
- For those in the Church of Jesus Christ, my own backyard, how do we make sense of either of these politicians as our new, national leader, and as important, how do we think of and relate to our brothers and sisters in faith who supported a candidate we may be personally revulsed by?
First, what a great time to remember that God is working all things together to fulfill His own good purposes, His appointed ends.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians 1
42 Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:1-2
Beyond these general assurances that God is working all things out as He pleases, and that’s a good thing, there’s also very particular consolation to be found in the Old Testament prophets in regards to those in positions of power.
4… ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters: 5 “It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Jeremiah 27:4-7
17…that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’ Daniel 4:17, 25, 32
God ordains, and uses, all leaders of nations for his purposes and ends, which ends are oftentimes beyond our ability to understand or make sense of with our limited knowledge.
Yes, that includes the Hitlers and Stalins, as well as the Clintons or Trumps too.
Sometimes the ends to which God moves a nation through national leaders are times of peace, refreshing and blessing, and sometimes those ends are judgment.
Second, recognize that God ordains means as well as ends. When the votes are counted and the winner is declared, the new president will be the person God chose to be president, but the means will be the electorate.
Those who might be tempted to congratulate themselves on voting for the eventual winner should be slow to do so. The next president may be used in God’s hands to bring judgment. Those voters on the losing side of this election who may be ready to sling stones at those who voted for the opposition, should also be circumspect. It may be that the candidate they opposed has been chosen by God to bring about national blessing.
Each of us can participate in this election, using prayerful wisdom and concourse, confident that God is using the means of the election process to accomplish His purposes in establishing the next President.
Third, Christians share in the joys, freedoms, and judgments that those in the nations experience. Like Jesus, we experience the stuff of life common to all humanity.
Some Christians in World War II Germany experienced the same persecution, sufferings and death that Jews marked out for death by Hitler experienced. Other Christians survived that same time to celebrate their own liberation from Hitler’s madness when Allied forces occupied Germany. All those believers were equally loved by their Father and equally saved by Jesus, yet they experienced markedly different outcomes, some death and some a continuation of life on this earth, as they shared the life and death producing elements of their time and place.
The prophet Jeremiah, living before and up to Babylonian captivity, suffered greatly under Jewish kings for bearing faithful witness to the coming judgment of God on Judah. His life ended as a hostage to rebels from his own nation who fled to Egypt, shortly after Judah was led captive to Babylon. The prophet Daniel lived most of his life under Babylonian, and then Persian captivity, a political servant of the kingdoms that God used to judge his own nation. These godly men suffered deportation, privation and persecution, as did the rest of their nation, though not for their own sins. Christians should be ready to suffer too. We have drunk from the cup of plenty and blessing, yet God may ordain the cup of privation and suffering for us as well. With Job we should say with humble sincerity, “the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
- Rest in the fact that God is, really, in control.
- Pray and lay out your concerns and burdens on the God who cares.
- Speak humbly to and about others who disagree with your own convictions on who is the next best leader among the candidates.
- Cultivate the kind of compassion Jesus had in his own suffering, for those who were about to drink their own cup of suffering through judgment, Luke 23.