Elections, fear and trusting God

October 3rd, 2016

What a year this has been. In addition to atrocities that keep occurring both at home and abroad, we are approaching the peak of an election cycle that no one saw coming. I can’t think of one person I know who isn't gravely concerned about the election itself and the possible outcome. (Well, maybe with the exception of my kids. They seem pretty content to go about their business and not be concerned with talking heads on TV.) Many people are even fearful of what will happen on November 8 and are lashing out at those who won’t vote for their candidate.

I was subjected to intense beratement on social media recently after daring — I didn’t realize it would be a courageous move until after the fact — to discuss third party candidates and why I would be voting for one in a non-swing state as a matter of principle. Instead of what could have been a civil conversation with points and counterpoints made, I was called more names than I've ever been called.

One example from him that didn’t require editing out profanity: “Well thanks in advance for kneecapping the party that actually gets stuff done. When they win, they'll just ignore you, and you'll deserve it. You're nothing but a fake, fair weather progressive, and you need to check your privilege.”

And another that did: “You should tell… the person like me who works plenty of overtime trying to decarbonize the energy system and save millions of lives from climate change, that you just ‘can't get over’ some really minor [bleep]. You really should. Because maybe then you'd find out that this [bleep] isn't some [bleeping] game.”

What was driving this man to resort to personal attacks, make outlandish assumptions and ignore any attempts to have a conversation and not a fight?

Reflect on that for a moment …

Fear. Fear of a world in which he is not in control and those he deems “unworthy” are. Fear of a world in which he doesn’t have a monopoly on deciding which “facts” should count in the inevitably imperfect discernment involved in deciding for whom to vote.

Are you fearful of what is going to happen on November 8? Are you fearful of a candidate being elected who stands for everything you don’t? Are you doing everything you can to convince others your candidate, whether you like them or not, is the way to go?

Are you putting your trust in princes, in a son or daughter of man, in whom there is no salvation? (See Psalms 49 and 146).


To take the Old Testament seriously, I suggest, is to take seriously God’s providential engagement in the messiness of human history in a way that should — so I argue — free the people of God themselves to engage politically in ways that accord with their conscience, rather than in ways determined by fear. There is a freedom that comes with a faith-born confidence that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton nor any third party candidate is the LORD’s messiah. With that trust comes the corresponding trust that any of them could be used by the LORD (like Pharaoh in Exodus maybe) to bring about good in a way that I could never imagine.

I’ll admit, I have at times been fearful in previous elections. I used to watch talking heads debate the latest tactics and polling results and obsess with them over what they might mean. And it caused me great anxiety. I distinctly remember crying amongst a group of friends in late 2000, my first election I was of age to vote in, because I wanted my candidate to win so badly and Florida was still trying to get its mess sorted out. For too long, I’ve put my trust — my faith and confidence — in our politics and that has meant putting less trust in the LORD our God. Now I try to trust that God’s kingdom will never be thwarted by the sad state of our politics. That frees me to engage in ways that seem truly good and hopeful, even if that means voting, this time around, for neither of the major candidates.

Pray for our nation and for the right outcome. Work for holiness and God's will through politics if called to it. Love and speak kindly to your brothers and sisters of different political views. And put your trust in God, not in the next president.

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