I will not post cartoon pictures of puppies this Election Eve.
Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with puppies. There’s not even anything inherently wrong with a little escapism, with enjoying the happy ending of a rom-com or cheering at the Cubs winning the World Series as a welcome distraction from the election. Totally get that.
Sometimes I think: this election is hard, and I am tired. Tired of the hype and the noise, but most of all tired of petty meanness of it all. Tired of the disillusionment of seeing squabbles and disunity even in unexpected places, tired of people losing respect for each other and Christian leaders over their choice, tired of one side pretending everything is simple and the other side countering that they’re simply wrong. Tired of putting out flamewars like some sort of crazed millennial Smokey the Bear.
My constant refrain can be, “I can’t wait till this election is over.”
I’m a Christian, and we are made for hard times. Jesus told us to expect them. Whether you think the hype is seriously overblown and this election isn’t that different from the ones before it or whether you’re convinced this is the end of America as we know it, there is no scenario in which it’s okay for believers to give up and withdraw.
Not to go all football-coach on you, but this is our time. When culture is dark—whether we’re sliding down the timeline to the abolitionist movement or Roman-era plagues and gladiators—Christians are called to be there. To speak truth in love. To selflessly serve others. To be the voice of trust in an unshakable God even when everything seems to be falling apart.
The candidates are all imperfect? That shouldn’t surprise us, given what we know about sin nature, what we know about it from looking even into our own hearts.
The political discussion has been especially rough? What a great opportunity to go out and be peacemakers and reconcilers in a shouting world.
The choice is difficult? Fine. Jesus actually didn’t give a lot of specific, clear-cut directives on political issues, despite living in a highly politically-charged time, so to me, that seems like a good reason to think that Christians can disagree and still love each other and represent the gospel well.
The future looks grim? No problem. We serve an almighty God whose plans and rule cannot be shaken, so of all people, we don’t need to lash out in fear.
I’m not trying to be glib. People I respect (and I do still respect them, even when they come to different political conclusions than I do), are voting for all available tickets tomorrow, or not casting a presidential vote at all. It’s a hard choice, and it does matter.
When I tell you that it’s going to be all right, I’m not giving you a feel-good escapism portal to duck through into a land of warm breezes and pastel butterflies. I’m not appealing to the fact that we’ve had lots of terrible presidents in the past (which is true) or the idea that this election isn’t that important in determining the direction of our country (which is…less true).
I am telling you it’s going to be all right because of the gospel. I know how this ends, guys, and God working all things for the good of those who love him isn’t a negotiable ballot amendment to be voted up or down.
Now—and this is important—our individual or national prosperity may not be part of God’s plan, but God’s glory will go forward. It will prevail, and as Christians, trusting in that will save us sleepless nights and voter guilt and a post-election hangover of worry and fear.
This is not about us. Our responsibility isn’t to save America or even convince everyone we know to agree with us.
So what do we do in response?
We contribute to political discussions realizing that “every careless word” matters and will have to be accounted for.
We pray for an honest election, for wisdom for our leaders, for unity in the church in front of a watching world.
We take part in our world and culture (most of us in this case by voting) with respect and gratitude for the freedoms that allow it.
And then we pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” and go about our lives and the task of spreading the gospel as if this election won’t end it. Because it won’t.
If you’re tired, so am I. But, hey, think of the range of heroes featured in dramatic movies and novels. They do their best work when tired—beaten down, battle-stained, exhausted by failures and betrayals, unsure of what’s going to happen next.
The thing that makes them protagonists is that they kept going.
So don’t you give up on this election or on your fellow human beings. Don’t reduce others to a checked ballot. Don’t pin your hopes on a map of red or blue states.
Let’s give God a little credit, enough to speak and act from a place of faith instead of fear.