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.
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 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.