God's Sovereignty and the Election

We live in troubling political times in America. I think I can speak for many Christians when I say that this has been a confusing and grieving election cycle. I’m not a political expert by any means, but I enjoy the process. It’s quite the privilege to be able to have a voice in how our country operates, a privilege many throughout the world don’t have. It’s a gift to us that we have access to information about our leaders, that we can vote without fear of being killed or harmed for our views, and that we can engage with others in the process—even those we disagree with. This election season is different than any I’ve experienced—and I’m young—so I’m not speaking from a wealth of experience here. I’ve had my moments of panic, fear, anger, frustration, and every other emotion in between throughout this long cycle. As we inch towards Election Day, I want none of those to rule my thoughts. Rather, I want to trust, not fear. I want to listen, not spout off my view. I want to have peace, not anger in my heart over the outcome.

As I’ve reflected on all of this, the reality of God’s sovereignty keeps coming back to my mind. I must ask myself: Do I really believe that God is sovereign? If I do, then I must believe he is not surprised by our political process anymore than he is surprised by the political processes of any other nation that has been in existence since the beginning of time. While it might be news to me, it’s not news to him.

The Bible is not silent about difficult circumstances that come upon God’s people. To be clear, America is not God’s nation. We can’t read the promises in Scripture for God’s people for America collectively. But God’s people reside in America (and all throughout the world), so we can find hope for the church in these confusing days we now live in. The turmoil in our souls that we feel over what is happening all around us, from race relations to political outcomes, is not new. It’s been plaguing us since sin entered the world. And God is not aloof to any of it.

All throughout Scripture, God’s people have lived with the threat of oppression all around them. God consistently uses suffering and unjust rulers to remind his people that this is not our final home and to conform us more into his image. This election season is no different.

Where is our hope? Where is our help? These are questions we are being forced to ask when the choices before us remind us that our hope can never be in a mere man or woman to save us or make us great again.

But these questions are also forcing us to come to terms with something that has not been experienced by people across the centuries—our prosperity and our peace. The relative ease we have had in America is not the norm. The way we worship freely, shop without much fear of being harmed, or spend money without much thought is a blessing and a curse. And while I will be the first to say I have no idea how things are going to play out in the coming months and years (and it does scare me), I also want to reorient my thinking around Scripture, and how God has worked all throughout the centuries. The peace and prosperity I experience could be gone tomorrow and God would still be on his throne. The election could put forth a leader who brings much harm to our nation, and yet, Jesus would still be King and my citizenship in heaven would remain untouched. I want to bank on that in these uncertain days, not an election outcome.

This is where the rubber meets the road in our belief in God’s sovereignty. Do we believe it? Do we trust in it? Or are we fearful, angry, agitated, that our candidate might lose—or that a failure to vote for a specific candidate might mean a loss anyway.

So where does action come in? There are many positions to take regarding how the election plays out, but let’s consider for a moment the long-term view of trusting in God’s sovereignty. Perhaps voting for neither candidate might make things hard in the short term, but maybe the long-term view plays out in our country’s favor. Who knows? But God does. Perhaps voting for one candidate makes things hard in the short-term, but better in the long-term. Who knows? But God does. Perhaps staying home this election means the worst person wins. Who knows? But God does.

It seems there are two big things challenging us. What we believe about God’s sovereignty and what we believe about America. God is in control and America is not his promised child. The Church is. And the Church cannot be shaken or taken down.

There are many unknowns this election cycle. There are frightening days ahead, perhaps. But we, the Bride of Christ, have a citizenship that can’t be taken from us, even if our nation falls apart.

God’s people have been serving him in dire times since the beginning of time, and he has always proven to be faithful. Some trust in elections, some in politicians, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.