In Which Abraham Lincoln Makes Us Feel Better About Super Tuesday

Let’s take a straw poll. Ballots with more than one (1) option checked will be discarded. Two tellers and one observer will count the votes. Feel free to interrupt using Robert’s Rules of Order.

As you look to the future, are you…
[   ] Fearful
[   ] Frustrated
[   ] Depressed and resigned to our country dramatically crashing and burning
[   ] All of the above

I understand these reactions. Really, I do.

But, public service announcement from the convener of this blog post: the results of Super Tuesday do not determine the future. Neither do the results of the presidential nominations from either party. Neither do the results of the election.
God determines the future.

Sometimes it’s good to have a little reminder of this on the days when you stare at the news reports and bar charts in disbelief.

So let me stretch out the timeline of political history in front of you. Do you know who relates to the fear we’re experiencing right now?

All the Israelites during the exile, who watched their homes burn and their family members die, then looked to the prophets who had warned them it was coming, pleading for a little hope. The early Christians during an era when “civic engagement” involved being fed to the lions in the Coliseum. And then the slightly-later early Christians who cheered when Constantine the Great converted to Christianity…and then watched the newly religious government mix politics and faith as the church become more corrupt.

If American history is more your thing (go patriotism!), let me tell you about those hot, crowded continental Congress sessions, where delegates were worried they were selling their souls for compromise (particularly on the moral issue of slavery) and the people outside had no idea what sort of government was being created behind closed doors. Or quote from Lincoln’s second inaugural address near the end of a long, weary war: “Both [sides] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other…The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.”

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Let’s play “Where’s Lincoln” at the Inaugural Address!

 

I love that, especially the last line: “That of neither has been answered fully.” In Lincoln’s case, that meant over 600,000 American lives lost. High stakes there, guys.
The point is, we are not the only Christians in history who have felt the frustration of divided politics and moral decline.

Lincoln’s conclusion is a reminder that yes, we should be informed about the best possible candidate for the presidency. (And then, you know, actually do something with that information at a primary, caucus, or election.)

But there will be no perfect candidate. America will never be a Christian nation because it was never intended to be one. Our progression as a country is not the millennial kingdom, Washington D.C. is not heaven, and the president is not a second Messiah.

Our prayers for this election—whichever candidate we align with, whichever issues are most pressing to us—will not be answered fully.

And there’s something encouraging in that, I think, in the fact that this is not our home, that current events don’t align to our carefully planned schedule, that we face opposition on all sides.

Because that’s what Jesus told us would happen. Over and over and over again, the Bible reminds us that life is going to be hard, particularly for believers. It also repeats, even more often, the character of God: unfailing love, unyielding justice, absolute control.

So let’s not live in fear. That’s the wrong posture for the church to take…ever, really, but especially when reacting to a fallen world looking just like a fallen world.

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Thanks for the perspective, Lincoln. I appreciate you.

 

We live in a messed-up society. We worship a sovereign God. Let’s let that second truth speak louder than the first one.

In the end, I say with the (slightly-revised) Psalm 20: “Some trust in [elections] and some in [political parties], but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

7 comments

  1. Well said! Good job. I wrote this week about suffering and was surprised to find many of my points here in your piece. Great minds think alike, perhaps. No ego issues here…lol

  2. Some recent teachings at my church have helped with this perspective. What is your country? And the answer for Christians is: Heaven. The kingdom of our Lord and God. And that country is right where it needs to be.

    1. Love this! So very true. While yes we should pray for our leaders and participate in national politics and so on, this is a helpful perspective to keep in mind.

  3. “God determines the future.”

    So true. Not only that, but it’s already set, and it’s beautiful. We just have to get through some mud and fire to get there. 🙂 And we will. Nothing can stop us getting there.

    It’s amazing the difference that perspective makes. When you focus not on the near-future, but the far one, life becomes brighter. All this temporary stuff just melts away. Sure sometimes we still suffer in it. It’s hard not to suffer in the middle of it. But that suffering always ends up taking a backseat when we turn our attention back to the big picture. And then when we’re not directly in the middle of the suffering, in those quiet moments between elections or illnesses, we get to decide if we want to focus on God and the love or on the things that just went wrong (and will again soon, temporarily). That, I think, determines how our lives are spent. When we focus on the former, we can look back at the end of this lifetime and be very content with how it went. 🙂

    Man, can you imagine putting your faith and hope in politics? Geez Louise, I think I’d go straight up nuts. It’s no wonder a lot of people are so afraid and unhappy.

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