There’s just no two ways around it – we can’t all get what we want on election week. After months of tiresome campaign ads that test all of our adherence to Matthew 6:34, we’re about to see which direction the government – most importantly, the Senate – swings.
We can’t control what happens, beyond our duty to vote (by the way, VOTE). But we can see to our reaction.
I’m no sage, but here’s what I have a conviction about come Tuesday – win or lose.
1. Your side wins.
Pray that God will make us gracious. We should not strut. We should not smug-post. We should not pound the other side into the ground emotionally, as the pundits do. And yes, we are most certainly tempted to do just that. We’ve been on edge and pissed about the whole thing (heck, we live that way now), and political victory is cathartic and relieving.
Instead, be gracious towards others’ pain.
Yes, I know we roll our eyes a little at the pain of friends who support policies we view as national suicide. I’m not saying policy isn’t important.
I’m simply saying that we can avoid rubbing dirt in people’s faces while they’re traveling the journey they must travel. “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Col. 4:6).
Besides, I have the sense that more people might be willing to examine our side if we weren’t so antagonistic about things all the time.
2. Your side loses.
Resist bitterness. Resist fear.
Yes, we’re disappointed. No, we don’t have a choice.
“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
Jesus doesn’t give polite suggestions. These are commands, as sure as feeding the poor or protecting life. They do not stop applying just because “things got real” and we might be profoundly affected. They matter because they affect our actions and words, and those things mold our witness. They reveal to the world where our bread is really buttered.
We are in God’s hands, not those of governing institutions. We are his; we are sealed from harm. A lost election is a glance in the mirror like all things are, an opportunity to test just how deeply and resolutely we believe in his care and sovereignty, and our emotions and words are the barometer. This is the time to pass the test.
3. Pray for the new leaders.
I’m betting a lot more Republican Christians said to pray for Barack Obama than actually did. And I suspect the same is true of Democratic Christians towards Donald Trump.
That’s okay. We all fall short. Grace of God be over us.
As the new government takes shape, we should pray for our leaders in the House and Senate, both new and veteran. Again, this is another chance to reveal (and crucify) our irritation and unease. But more so, I still believe prayer makes a difference. “A king’s heart is like streams of water in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses” (Proverbs 21:1).
Wednesday is going to be a second Monday for some. May we all speak accordingly.