With prying eyes, I watched as my ballot joined hundreds of voices in the locked blue box. Safely secured in the vault, it waits for Election Day. As I exited the polling station into the frigid October air, my sigh of relief mingled with the uneasiness in my heart.
This time, the future of our country, constitution and liberties could very well be at stake. If certain politicians have their way, this could be the last election where my vote counts in a flyover state.
How easy it is to forget the privileges we all share. The blessings we reap from the many lives who have gone before our time.
Clutching the wool scarf around my neck, I thought of my grandfathers before me. The one who sailed the Mayflower in search of a better life. Another who, fleeing religious persecution, came to America to freely worship God and till his own land. Still other grandfathers bravely fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars so that we could be free and equal. Their legacies weigh heavy on my mind as I ponder the next four years.
As a Jesus follower, it is challenging to know how to respond to the mixed bag of emotions this bitter campaign evokes and the uncertainty that lies ahead.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wring our hands or search for answers. In the context of trials and tribulation, the very words of Scripture were penned. In the book of Romans, Paul was about to embark upon a journey he knew in advance would lead to his capture, suffering and ultimately death (Acts 20:22-24, 38; 21:10-13). Looking down the barrel of certain adversity, he wrote these words:
“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, continue steadfastly in prayer” (Rom 12:12).
When faced with a turbulent future, here are 3 ways we can respond:
1. We prepare
I would be a mess right now if I didn’t know how this story ends. But God has given us a look at the last chapter so that we can rejoice in “Christ Jesus, who is our hope” and not give in to fear or despair (1 Tim 1:1).
How can we be happy when the future looks bleak? This is an odd dichotomy to wrestle with because no believer wants to see division, hatred, corruption and evil become rampant. Yet the world’s growing darkness means our day of deliverance is drawing near.
No candidate, party or protest can ever thwart the plan of God. Every world event is inevitably leading to this final act. For this we patiently wait and endure, knowing our deliverance and salvation are secure.
Every day lived is one day closer to Jesus’ return. He is coming; ready or not. It is his return that gives us reason for joy in difficult days. One day God will end our suffering, avenge his people, judge the world, destroy sin and death and make all things right. We prepare for his return by fixing our eyes on Jesus and being his representative in this world.
2. We Persevere
This earth is not our eternal home. But we still have to live here.
As we wait for Jesus to make things right, it is comforting to know that the pain we experience is never wasted or meaningless. Every trial purifies us and produces fruit in us like perseverance, character, and hope (Rom 5:3-4). No matter the circumstance, we can rest in the fact that God will use the pain of this life for our good and His glory (Rom 8:28).
In these loving hands of God, we cannot lose. He sustains us in trouble, sanctifying us in this life while saving us for the next. God gives his people the perseverance needed to keep trusting, obeying and doing good in the face of evil (Rom 15:5). We can be image bearers of the King by shining his light in this dark world.
3. We Pray
Prayer is our direct communication line to the King of Kings. If you trust and follow Jesus, you have the ear of the most powerful person in the world. And your voice matters to Him.
Sometimes I view prayer as a last resort. Yet in reality it is one of only two offensive weapons we have against the enemy (Eph 6:17-18).
Prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of God’s people because of our relationship and right standing with Him. In Scripture, prayer moved the heart of God, delayed judgment of a nation, healed the sick, changed the minds of kings, and triggered supernatural events (Ex 32, Jonah 3, 2 Kings 20, 1 Kings 18).
So it is most interesting that both Paul and Peter, in light of political tension and tribulation, tell believers to pray for their government leaders (1 Tim 2:2). To show respect to the ones who were taking pleasure in their death (1 Pet 2). To bless and not curse an emperor who was using Christians as human torches to light his garden parties (Rom 13).
Asking God to bless and do good to those we don’t like brings us face to face with our own heart. You can’t honestly pray for someone you hate at the same time. Praying for our government requires us to set our opinions and offenses aside. Submitting to authority instead of demanding our rights forces an attitude adjustment, one that very much reflects the one Jesus took to the cross. And isn’t this our goal? To become like the One we claim to serve and love, no matter the cost?
If we want to see change in our nation, the change must begin with us.
Perhaps this turbulent year has been God’s global altar call. If we want God to heal our land, we must humble ourselves, draw near to Him and repent of our own self-sufficiency, idolatry and greed (2 Chron 7:14, 1 Pet 5:6). God could be setting the stage for the final act, all the while longing for people to turn to Him before it’s too late (2 Pet 3:9).
Regardless who wins this election, God’s will shall prevail. We can respond to this political climate by preparing our hearts, persevering in trials, and praying for our leaders – even that candidate we don’t like. May we remember which King we serve, to which Kingdom we belong and to Whom we pledge our allegiance.