Here we are one week removed from the 2012 Presidential Election and not a whole lot has changed. President Obama was re-elected, Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate, and Republicans still have a majority in the House of Representatives. Why then, has it seemed like the general consensus in the Christian world is that the country is now far worse off than it was one week ago? This is something that I personally have been wrestling with since the results came in. God has revealed sin in my heart that was unearthed by my reaction to the election results.
Being in my mid-twenties, 2012 was the fourth election I’ve taken part in going back to the 2006 gubernatorial election in Maryland. Being a Republican in Maryland is a tough life. Most of the counties vote Republican with the exception of the cities. But, as is the case for most of America now, that’s where all the population is so the state has been heavily Democrat for many years. Not a single candidate I’ve voted for, for state or federal office, has been elected. My response has largely been hypocritical. I will be the first to tell you that God has a plan to put in office him whom He has chosen and that this plan is perfect and just because it is God who is executing it. However, I will also be the one bemoaning about how whoever was elected is going to ruin our society. This was especially true in 2008 and 2012.
I’m not a huge fan of President Obama and his policies foreign and domestic but that is neither here nor there. The issue at hand is far worse than the President’s preferred method of governing the people. The issue I deem most serious now is my response to the election. God was kind enough to convict me of a lack of faith and trust in His plan almost immediately after the election. After having a lengthy phone conversation with a friend about how Obama is ruining our country I was hit with the severity of my sin. I was proclaiming God’s sovereign control over all things including elections then turning around and calling Him a liar by grumbling and complaining about how God is running things!
That is not what trust and faith looks like at all! Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, He directs it where He will.” Isaiah 46:10 says “My counsel shall stand and I shall accomplish all my purpose.” And finally Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” We cannot escape God’s sovereign control over all aspects of life, from great to small. There are many examples of how serious a sin not trusting God’s plan is. We see one such example in Numbers 21:4-6 where Israel is being led through the wilderness by God towards the land of Canaan.
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And they spoke out against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
As we see in those verses God punished Israel’s complaining and lack of trust with death. Israel had spoken out against God and His messenger Moses about the way things were being done. They probably thought that going around the land of Edom was a bad idea and a waste of time for they had only the bread from heaven to eat. They longed for better food, more water, and they wanted to be in the Promised Land already. Their exodus from Egypt had so far not gone the way they thought it would. Each person in the camp probably had their own expectations and ideas about how the journey to Canaan would be and for pretty much everyone it seems God’s plan was a huge disappointment.
I can see a bunch of parallels between this story and my reaction to the Presidential election. I had my own vision of the country if the people I voted for were elected. I was clinging so tightly to that vision as the only hope for America to be saved from the path of certain decay it is on. But the election didn’t go according to my plan and didn’t live up to my expectations which I had raised to a level where it was functioning as my savior. Not only is that mistrusting God, it is also idolatry. I had made an idol of hope out of the Republican ticket and feared that loosing the election would prove disastrous for the country. This was such a serious sin for Israel that God sent fiery serpents to bite and kill those who protested! Thankfully for me, I’ve been purchased by the blood of Christ and my sins were cast on Jesus who bore the punishment for me, or else I’d be no better off than the Israelites in the wilderness.
God wants us to trust in Him completely because He is in control and He is working His good and just plan to accomplish His redemptive purposes. God’s ways are past finding out says Paul in Romans 11:33. However, we can take comfort in truths like Romans 8:28 that say “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The ultimate end of everything that God works is for His glory and our good because the two are bound up in one another since our purpose as image bearers is to glorify God. We are far from glorifying God when we grumble and complain about political elections. God wants our trust because He is a sovereign God who won’t ever let us out of His hand.
That being said, we are still citizens of this nation while we’re here on the Earth and we are called to be witnesses for God to our neighbors. We should always be standing up for God-honoring causes such as the care of orphans and widows, the poor, the downtrodden, and the weak. Our political beliefs should be influenced by our biblical worldview. As long as we have the God-given freedom to vote and choose our leaders we should exercise it with thanksgiving, but we should refrain from complaining because we know that nothing can take away the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Were Saint Paul alive today I’m sure he would be able to apply Romans 8:38, “For I am sure that neither an election, nor evil politicians, nor laws passed, nor taxes imposed, nor anything can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”