Post-Election Thoughts

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.”

 

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Be Anxious in Nothing

“…But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” Phil. 4:6-7, 19

What an awesome promise this is from God for those who trust in Him!  If you’ve been alive for the last 3 1/2 years you know that the world has experienced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Millions of people across the world lost their investments and savings, corporations and small businesses alike folded, and the value of our currency plummeted.  For many, it seemed the collapse of the world economy was right around the corner.  Despair was the pervasive attitude, especially in the United States, the most preeminent and wealthiest country on the map.  In this country, we get so bent out of shape over financial matters such as not being able to afford the remodeling of our kitchen, purchasing the newest HD LCD 3D, anything with a D, television, sending our kids to college, that we often forget to consider how well-off we really are and how much we have been blessed.  Not only are we blessed with great wealth in this country, we are also blessed to live in the most prominent and powerful nation in the world.  If you want proof of this, check this out.  If you’ve ever travelled out of the country, say to France, for vacation and you wanted to call your friends or family members back home in Maryland you would have had to dial a country extension code before you dial the number.  The country code for the United States is “+1”.  We are #1, the first, the most powerful, the most preeminent and important.  We say “God bless the USA!” like He hasn’t done that every day in lavish excess for the last 400 years!  We are extremely blessed by God to live in a country that has experienced the blessings of God for so long, not just in financial matters, but also in political and civil freedoms.

However, we take these blessings for granted every single day.  We find ourselves every day presuming on God’s grace to continue to bless us just because we woke up that day and are hard working 9-5.  Job was a man who we could learn a lesson from if we take our blessing for granted.  Job had an abundance of possessions in every sense of the word.  He was truly blessed by God with riches, possessions, family, friends, etc…until Satan asked for God’s permission to tempt Job to sin against God by taking away his blessings.  Satan’s premise was that Job would curse God if he lost the things he loved so God gave Satan the permission to take away but not to touch a hair on Job’s head.  I assume that many of us under these same circumstances would indeed begin to question and grumble against God and even worse, curse Him when our sons were killed, our house destroyed, and all of our assets lost.  I know I would certainly be angry, confused, doubtful of God, and feeling faithless.  But Job, like Paul, “suffered the loss of all things” but his faith in God never wavered and welcomed the sufferings of Satan because he knew that though Satan had malicious intentions, God’s intentions were glorious because Job’s faith was strengthened and purified when it went through the furnace of affliction.

Job’s trust and faith in God’s glorious purposes caused him to never doubt the love and care of God in his life.  So also we should trust and believe when we come upon troubles in our own lives.  As mentioned before the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, the I may gain Christ.”  Also, Romans 5:4 tells us about suffering, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  Hope is the foundation of faith, and faith is rooted in trust.  So we can conclude that to have hope is to trust as well.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us that we should be anxious in nothing.  If trust in God is what Paul is calling us to in this passage, then the opposite of that trust is anxiety.  Anxiety is stress that is brought about by certain fears in our life, usually relating to loss.  You can be anxious over the fear of loosing your job, your spouse, your money, your possessions, anything that you claim to own you can be anxious about loosing it.  Not to mention the fact that all things in the world belong to God and they are gifts to us to be stewarded wisely; we “own” many possessions.  Paul is calling us to live a life without fear.  In a world filled with sin and uncertainty there is A LOT to fear!  The only thing we are called to fear in this world is God.  Jesus says we should fear the One who is able to save and also to destroy.

But for those of us who have faith and hope in Christ we have the “shalom” of God bestowed upon our lives.  Shalom is the world that is translated into “peace” in verse 7 and it has a very strong meaning of total and complete peace with God, the likes of the peace that exists between the members of the Trinity.  Total, complete, and unending peace that is perfect and eternal.  This peace results in love and we certainly trust those who we love.  So this God whom we have access to in Christ Jesus is most worthy of our complete trust!  That means that when sufferings, trials, financial crisis, and pain comes our way we can trust in the God who loves us and the God whom we also love to not only carry us through whatever we may experience, but to make us the better for it as well.  Now we may not ever experience full restoration of material wealth and possessions but we will certain experience a restoration of faith, love, and grace in our lives as a result of being momentarily afflicted.  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has promised to guide us through the fires of life and to bring us out more deeply in love with Him and ever more amazed at His grace!  So with confidence we can draw near to God in our moment of distress and cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us!  Also remembering the faithfulness of God in the past and recounting His goodness and grace.  The remedy for anxiety and fear in this life is trust in Jesus Christ and rejoicing in thanksgiving.  And when we rejoice in goodness and mercy of God we will with unending love sing the words immortalized in this hymn by Robert Robinson:

Come Thou fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy never ceasing

Call for songs of loudest praise!

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the Name I’m fixed upon it

Name of Thy redeeming love!

Hitherto Thy love has blessed

Thou hast brought me to this place

And I know Thy hand will bring me

Safely home by Thy good grace

Jesus when me when a stranger

Wandr’ing from the fold of God

He to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood!

what a relief!

It’s always such a relief when you turn in assignments that you’ve been working on all semester!  My accounting annual report project is finally done and turned in!  I was very glad to finally be taking that burden off of my back, but at the same time I was really nervous because I need to do really well on it to pass the class.  I have to get a C- to pass since it’s required for my major.  It’s not impossible, but I definitely need to hit the books and grind it out for the last month of the semester.  All I can do is work my hardest, not give in to distractions to slack off, and trust that God will deliver me from this trial and put me in the place He wants me to be in.  

This week will be pretty crazy because I have an accounting exam on Wednesday and I have a consumer behavior project to finish by Friday.  I know God will give me the strength and mental toughness to make it through and succeed.  I’m also extremely thankful that God has provided me an oasis in which I can rest in and can trust for encouragement.  My wonderful girlfriend is so great at listening to my many complaints about how much I don’t like school right now and always encourages me to keep going.  She is such a blessing that I can forget about the world when I’m with her.  I thank God for her everyday and how she is always there for me.