Like millions of other Americans, I watched in astonishment last night (and early this morning) as polling predictions were overturned and Donald Trump won an improbable and historic victory. He will be our next President. For many, this is exactly as it should be. For many others, it is an outrage.
Truthfully, I slept fitfully and woke with an incredible heaviness in my chest. I even fought tears to explain to my children that “Trump won. And while we may not like that and didn’t vote for him, it is now our responsibility, as Christians, to pray for him—that he would have the wisdom he needs for such a big job.”
This morning, like most mornings since I became a Christian at 16, began with Scripture reading. I am reminded again how this habit serves as an anchor in my life. When the world tilts, when fear mounts, when I puzzle over the future and all its uncertainties, it is the Word of God that provides ballast. This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
The first words I read today were the opening lines of Psalm 77:
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.” Thanks be to God, he inclines his ear to hear his Church as they pray—not because we have made ourselves deserving of his audience but because he is merciful. No matter how we cast our vote yesterday, I pray that every American Christian is doing this: getting on our knees for our new president, for our deeply divided nation, for the Church.
Then I read 2 Kings 22, where King Josiah orders repairs for the temple, and a copy of the Book of the Law is discovered and read aloud. What is Josiah’s response? Penitence. Brokenness. Humility. It reminded me that there is only one offering that is acceptable to God: a broken and contrite heart God will not despise (Ps. 51:17). At all times, especially now, there must be repentance from God’s people: ways in which we admit, both Democrats and Republicans, our deeply held idolatries. We have not loved God highest and best. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
Then, I read Joel 1, which paints the stark portrait of Israel as she languishes under the judgment of God: “The vine dries up; the fig tree languishes. Pomegranate, palm, and apple, all the trees of the field are dried up, and gladness dries up from the children of man” (Joel 1:12). But before you think that I will make the move to compare America with Israel, I will not. We are not God’s chosen people. America has never been the promised land. And even as we give thanks for the blessings that our nation has enjoyed, let us finally be done with the terrible lie of American exceptionalism.
Finally, I ended in Hebrews 4, which reminds God’s people that we are not home yet. “The promise of entering his rest still stands;” “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” I trust that this election teaches us to better live into our big story of hope: God made a world that he deeply loved. It became broken and corrupt as his people chose self-rule. But God did not abandon his people to the tragedy of their own sin. He rescued them by his own self-sacrifice, clothing his Son in human flesh that he might die the death we deserved and give us the life we could never earned. And one day, this world, in all its brokenness, will be restored. Jesus is coming back to establish a kingdom of justice and love.
That—and no election result—is our happy ending.
You rule the world with wisdom.
You do not wring your hands when elections return unexpected results.
Let us become a more faithful people to Jesus:
Our highest allegiance never political party,
Our best hope never political victory.
Sever our hearts from their idolatries,
And teach us what is good:
That we may do justice,
And love mercy,
And walk humbly with our God.