By Mark A. Taylor
Here’s a theme song for every upset voter in America. With Annie in the musical of the same name, we can sing, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”
That was Peggy Noonan’s theme in her post for The Wall Street Journal last week: “Someone is going to win Tuesday,” she said, and then with tongue in cheek added: “If trendlines that have proved reliable in the past continue, the sun will come up on Wednesday. (We claim this with a 3 percent margin of error.)”
Max Lucado was looking ahead to tomorrow, too, when he wrote “My Prediction for November 9,” a post that has since been widely shared.
I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).
We’re reminded that history may be affected by the results of this election, but God’s work in the world will prevail. Neither conquering kings nor persecuting emperors have ever eliminated God’s people or changed his purposes. Whoever becomes president will make decisions we believe are wrong and make statements we can’t condone. But God will still be with us. If experience has taught us anything—in our country, in our local churches, in our families—it is this: God continues to bless and provide in spite of the stupidity or selfishness of his creation.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care. God works through the activism of Christians in government affairs and political processes. Every realm of the world’s work needs the salt and light of the gospel.
But we dare not believe God is bound by a court’s decision or a president’s policies. We dare not speak and act as though government is our savior. And we dare not demonstrate an unloving, unkind attitude toward those who disagree with us. It’s possible for Christian activism conducted with an unchristian attitude to harm the cause of Christ.
And so tomorrow, let’s embark on a fresh strategy. Let’s pray for the president, whoever wins (1 Timothy 2:1-4). While several Christians have gone public with their reasons for choosing one candidate or the other, more Christian leaders, especially local ministers, have been silent. Their motive has been not to sully their mission with the dirt and dissension of politics, especially this year. But now the time for silence has passed. Let us mount loud and persistent pleas for God to work through (or in spite of) those who govern.
And after we’ve prayed, let’s move on. No matter who wins today’s elections, the poor, the prisoners, and the oppressed still need the gospel’s good news and the freedom of Christ (John 4:18, 19).
No matter which political party prevails, neither will prevent us from obeying the Bible’s command to keep ourselves “pure and faultless” as we “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
And let us remember that Christ’s directive to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20) does not depend on democracy or disappear when religious liberty is threatened.
One final thought: Maybe this would be a good time for repentance. Christians in America have had every opportunity to influence and model godliness, and yet our nation continues to demonstrate disobedience. It’s easy to condemn unsavory politicians but more difficult to admit how one’s own compromises or arrogance or isolation has contributed to our culture’s erosion.
We can be surprised, or perhaps encouraged, that a newspaper’s political commentator speaks of such things. With the closing paragraphs of Noonan’s post, let me end mine today:
God is in charge of history. He asks us to work, to try, to pour ourselves out to make things better. But he is an actor in history also. He chastises and rescues, he intervenes in ways seen and unseen. Or chooses not to.
Twenty sixteen looks to me like a chastisement. He’s trying to get our attention. We have candidates we can’t be proud of. We must choose among the embarrassments. What might we be doing as a nation and a people that would have earned this moment?