As I think about this last week, I have realized that our country is filled with strong emotions on all sides, but deeply polarized in these feelings. Some are celebrating like in the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house fell on one of the Wicked Witch of the East, dancing and singing, “Ding-dong the witch is dead,” but rather singing “Ding-dong the Orange Man is dead.” And many on the other side are gnashing their teeth at the way the vote count unfolded, thoroughly convinced that the results are illegitimate amidst voter fraud and irregularities.
In the midst of such powerful polarization, what should one say? One strategy is to keep one’s head down and shift away from the election entirely. There is much to be said about the greatness of our God and the immensity of our mission to raise Godly children and servant-warriors to minister to a fractured people. So why take a risk of offending others?
But there are lessons to be learned regardless of which side of this political divide one is on. And, of course, there is the issue of how do we lead our children through this turmoil?
I keep coming back to this reality — Humility is God’s strategy — Jesus pointed to this virtue over and over. One of the clearest, most straight-forward statements was: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
At the risk of making Trump supporters angry with me, the truth is that Trump beat himself. Exit polls revealed that those who voted Democrat for president were not voting as much in favor of Biden, but against Trump. Even many Republicans cast a vote against their own candidate. Why? As we discuss the election with our children, and the issue of character is brought up, we have to admit that the president often missed opportunities to be humble and gracious. There were often times when he was vindictive and mean. While many in his base loved him for this, many others were repelled by this.
While the final word has not yet been said on this election and the outcome, the vote count would never have been so close in many states had people not felt so strongly against our president. Think about this: If our own children mirrored Trump’s speech and his behavior toward others, we would discipline them for such anti-Christian conduct. So I pray that those who supported Trump can honestly and humbly acknowledge this, especially with our own children.
But there is enough lack of humility on both sides of the political aisle to go around. At the present moment and maybe permanently, it appears that Joe Biden is the president-elect. Those in his camp — whether politicians or media — should avoid being too proud in their own exaltation, for Jesus’ warning is geared to all people, not just one political party. We are now witnessing many coming forward to blame others for the outcome, particularly in the congressional races. We may see people using this moment to “eat their own”; to turn like cannibals to devour their fellow party members.
Watching politics is not a place to find much that is noteworthy and praiseworthy. Politics provides more bad examples to use as warnings to our children than examples to emulate. And extreme times can bring out the worst in some of our more favored men or women. Though politics is often labeled a dirty profession to be avoided, it is still an important place to serve our Lord and a place where one can serve honorably. To a large extent, we have what we currently have because good people have steered clear of the fray.
The danger of pride goes even deeper — “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) According to this, pride puts one at odds with God! When we refuse to humble ourselves, we make God our enemy. Any hope of getting His help in one’s endeavors is cut off. People praying for God’s help are often like the Pharisee praying in the temple — Thank God I am not like that tax collector over there. Thank God I am a righteous person, one with a special relationship with you. I thank God that, unlike that sinner over there, I have an inside track with You.” Jesus condemned this self righteous attitude toward others. He said that the tax collector would go to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. We must guard against this evil, the tendency to see people in categories where on our side are the good people and on the other side are the wicked.
This is very hard in this polarized climate. This is the exact kind of thinking that is dividing us even further from others who do not share our perspective on these present times.
I am praying for healing of relationships that have been broken over politics. While I have little hope of healing between public figures, I am praying for those relationships that strike close to home. I know many wonder how Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings will go. Some are even relieved that COVID-19 is disrupting these get-togethers, so that the inevitable conflict can be delayed or forgotten all together.
Humility on all sides is needed. I don’t have perfect judgment. I wrestled and wrestled regarding the choices in the 2020 election. When I finally made my decision, I could understand why some might vote differently. Now some of you might strongly disagree with me on this. But I have to confess that I have imperfect knowledge. I have imperfect discernment. And I receive imperfect information. (Does anyone else yearn for an unbiased source of news?)
In humility, I have to respect those close to me who made other choices. My friends and family who disagree are not evil people. They also wrestled with their decisions. Those I am close to love this country, they want good things for their own families and for others to also enjoy good things. We disagree strongly on how to achieve these goals. But time alone will tell us who is making the right choice.
At the end of the day, God is in charge. He has good plans even in the midst of evil intentions. Remember the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”I don’t know how God will use this turmoil or His intentions in this present situation. But I know His ultimate intention — the saving of many lives: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
My prayer is that I would be alert to His plan and purposes and to see how He wants me to join Him. His plans transcend any election or any other circumstances that come our way. Humbling myself before our mighty God, Christopher