finding hope on election day

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This has been a particularly painful election cycle. It seems like everyone is sick of politics and nobody is happy with the candidates we’re stuck with. This season has brought out the ugly in too many of us.

Because we’re scared. Scared of what happens when we’re stuck with four long years of a deeply flawed president — and make no mistake, both major candidates are very deeply flawed — and what they will choose to do with their power.

We have good reason to be scared. But we also have reason to hope.

First, the person sitting in the Oval Office has a pretty minimal impact on our day-to-day lives. Second, God’s will will be done either way.

As much as we as a society like to keep the spiritual and the secular separate, the Bible has a lot to say about government. Christians are called to submit to worldly authority not in spite of God but because of God:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 13:1-2

Submission is a difficult concept to love in politics, just as in marriage. It requires a lot of humility, and it instinctively repulses me because I have such strong opinions about good and bad policy. It raises a tough question: If we are called to submit to authority, what happens when that authority enacts unjust laws?

Paul wrote this during Nero’s reign, which was not exactly the pinnacle of just and life-affirming government. And the Bible has more to say on this subject:

Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say, “What are you doing?” Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.

Ecclesiastes 8:4-6

Ecclesiastes gives us assurance that even when we are asked to follow a bad ruler, God’s will will be done. We are told to be still for the time being — because all things work together for good, even if we can’t understand how right now. And when we rely on his wisdom instead of the world’s, we can seize that “proper time and procedure” to stand up against what is wrong, and to stand up well. (I’m putting the emphasis here on procedure. There are good ways to effect change and there are bad ways.)

The Old Testament chronicles a litany of awful monarchs who oppressed their subjects, and yet God was able to fulfill his plan. Sometimes because he thwarted their evil schemes and sometimes because he needed their mistakes in order to make something greater happen. Our salvation would not have been possible if a flawed ruler had not put an innocent man named Jesus to death.

Election Day is tomorrow and I am so ready for it to be over. But I have a little glimmer of hope: That no matter who tops 50% and what they choose to do while in office, there’s one person who will win: Jesus.

Much as I would love to have the last word, I can’t say it better than Max Lucado. He writes:

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016.

Happy election week, friends. Keep your chin up. And may God bless the United States of America.

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finding god in stress-eating brownie bites

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Brownies are pretty much my undoing. Brownie bites are even worse. They’re so small, it’s totally fine to have three, or four, or five…

Last night I found myself unreasonably worried about pretty much everything unimportant but irritating. We’d just dropped a small chunk of cash getting an earlier flight back home from a wedding, with the hope that Monday would go a little smoother. I’d just told my coworkers I would go to an event later in the week, forgetting that I had Bible study that same night. My dog sitter was going to be late. We had a plumber coming the next day (during a characteristically huge window of time) to fix our master toilet for the second time. I hadn’t done my next blog post. It was supposed to be a recipe, and I had exactly zero of the necessary ingredients or energy to prepare it.

And so there I was, standing at my kitchen counter, waffling over all the things, eating my weight in brownie bites. When I came out of the fog and realized how anxious I was feeling, I then started being anxious about being anxious, especially over such trivial things when my life was actually really great.

There’s a saying circulating around the Christian parts of Pinterest: Don’t say God has been silent if your Bible has been closed. Mine had been closed for three days.

It’s so apparent from Jesus’ words that he didn’t come to Earth for us to be paralyzed with anxiety.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

When I realized how long it had been since I’d read my Bible, a wave of comfort washed over me. Oh, right. I’m not alone. I remembered those words from Matthew in the shower and felt the stress fall away with the dirt and sweat of the day. The things that were niggling at me were nothing in comparison to my family, my health, and especially my faith.

I like how John Piper put it: “Anxiety is an emotion. It is not a decision. We don’t decide to get anxious. It happens to us.” When the stresses of day-to-day life get to us, we are not alone — and God can help us with two solutions: relieving our anxiety and helping us the problems we face, no matter how small they might be. 1 Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you.” He cares for the sparrow, and so he cares for us.

As I write this post, it’s Sunday night. I’m in my jammies with a hot cup of tea. And as soon as I schedule this post, I’m cracking my Bible back open.

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