Listening to the radio and reading the paper today there seems to be no end to the expression of “surprise” and “shock” and even “disbelief” over the fact that Donald Trump now stands as the president-elect of the United States of America.
While I felt similarly, it occurs to me: not everything is strange. Not everything is unclear. In fact, here are ten truths, in the form of “affirmations”–“yeses”–which every God-fearing, Bible-believing American can stand behind with certainty, confidence, and even joy the day after a bewildering election cycle concluded.
- Humility and Fear. We affirm that humility and fear are the chief virtues by which we recognize that God is sovereign and in control and we are not. He raises up whom he will; he deposes whom he will, and no human can thwart His Divine Purposes for a nation or a people. Humility can be seen in restraining our words: “God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5). Fear is expressed in the pursuit of wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; and knowledge of the holy one, understanding.” (Proverbs 1:9)
- Realism. We affirm a realistic mindset or attitude towards the political process. There are strict limits to what human systems can accomplish. Our realism stems from our belief that we are creatures, we are not the Creator. Hence, we affirm “checks and balances.” We affirm term limits. We affirm citizen rulers. And we affirm, with cold realism, that God cannot be excluded from our national conversation without great danger. This means more than tacking him on to the end of speeches, as in “God bless America.” The psalmist meant more than this when he wrote, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” (Psalm 33:12)
- Anger and Shame. We affirm that we are angry and ashamed at the sin and wickedness which is tolerated in political figures on both sides of the aisle, as well as the ignorance and foolish behavior which in general is celebrated amongst our nation’s elite, ruling classes. Divorce, Adultery, Murder, Lying, Stealing, Greed, and Disrespect (a short summary of the last five commandments) are rampant up and down the hallways of power and influence in the United States. We affirm that we are implicated by such things, and are duly ashamed. So with the people of God of old, we “repent in dust and ashes” and reaffirm what David prayed, “Do I not hate those who hate you, and abhor those who rise up against you?” (Psalm 139)
- Commonwealth. We affirm our commitment to a government which pursues the commonwealth–that is, what is truly for the common good. While neither party can claim to do this perfectly, evangelical Christians may receive these election results as a reminder that God, the LORD, is not pleased that people use their positions of power to establish laws and policies which He hates, especially those which refuse to give voice to the least powerful among us, the unborn. Not only does this deny what is for the common good, it is fundamentally opposed to a truly representative government which withholds rights from citizens simply because they happen to be inconveniently in utero.
- A Sense of Humor. We affirm that we are amused that those in power think they know how to predict the course of human affairs. We chuckle while others scratch their heads and endlessly attempt to explain “what happened.”We’re not the only one’s laughing:
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:4-6 ESV)
- Gratitude. We affirm that we are grateful for what might be an opportunity to change the moral direction in which our country was headed to something that is less evil, less rebellious, and less antagonistic towards God and His Holy Word than what might have been the case under the Democratic candidate. We are grateful, therefore, not for President-elect Donald Trump, but for God’s Mercy. If the Sovereign God has seen fit to raise up a buffoon to bring about such change, we can and should express our gratitude to His Wisdom in this matter. But it is not without irony.
- Embarrassed. We affirm that we are embarrassed at the level of discourse to which our national dialogue has sunk. We affirm likewise that the heights and aspirations of our country’s ambitions have not been realized and we do not believe that this president, the former president, or any president, for that matter, really represents what is really good, true, and beautiful in the sight of a Holy God. In fact, it is often the opposite: the “wicked strut about on every side” and “vileness is exalted among men.” (Psalm 12:8)
- Compassion. We affirm that we feel compassion and empathy for those who are offended at President-elect Trump and the things he has said and done over the years, and over the most recent several months. Our shared citizenship makes us like a national family. So we are not indifferent towards the evil of abusive speech, empty words, or greedy, self-centered behavior. We recognize and affirm that sin in a national leader is especially wicked and affirm that those whom his sins have affected most. This is particularly true for comments which have been construed or directed at women, immigrants, and people of color.
- Resolved. We affirm that we are resolved to obey God in every part of our lives, and to let our speech be seasoned with salt, and to speak the truth in love, and to serve Him in this land of our pilgrimage regardless of who is installed at the highest level of power. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5)
- Hopeful. We affirm that we are hopeful that God will accomplish His Will in spite of, and even through the instrumentality of, wicked and corrupt men. Since His Will does not change, neither does our agenda or “plan” or “goal” change–we humans are like the grass of the field, and we serve an unchanging God who himself, through every election, is God “from everlasting, to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2-4).
Finally, we must remember that if the election results are confusing to people, they are not confusing to God, who consistently is described in the Holy Bible as the One who is “enthroned above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40) and thus presides over all presidents and politicians and raises rulers up, and brings them down, for reasons which are often only clear to Him.
I hope these affirmations will serve both as a call to action for those who love, fear, and obey God, as well a call to reflection and repentance for those who do not. Meanwhile, may God have mercy upon our nation.
*Artwork is with gratitude to PaxinaBox at Deviantart.com
(essay updated on Wed. 11/9/2016 at 4:30pm)