Monday, 30 January 2017

Thy Kingdom Come

To say I was distraught in the lead-up to the presidential election would be an understatement.  I was gravely concerned about the outcome, fearing that if it didn’t go my way, my country as I knew it would be lost.  I told my children as much, which caused them considerable consternation.

I was concerned that the candidate’s American experience – how and where he grew up, and his resultant world view – was too far-removed from the average person’s. 

I was concerned about his lack of relevant experience for the job of Commander-in-Chief. 

I was concerned about what he would do with the size of the federal government.

I was concerned about what he would do to affect our country’s standing in the world, particularly in terms of relationships with Muslim countries.

I was concerned about his ability to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, and the ramifications that would have for social and other issues about which I care deeply.

Basically, everything the candidate stood for was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to happen.

I was so concerned that I travelled from California to Ohio to knock on doors in Lucas County, pleading with voters not to elect someone so callow and clearly unprepared for the presidency.

Ah, 2008.  So long ago!  I couldn’t believe that Barack Obama won the election.  (I also couldn’t believe that, instead of driving from O’Hare to Ohio to canvass, I could have just gone across the border to Indiana, which hadn’t voted for a Democrat since 1964, and knocked on doors there.)  I was in shock, and I sulked and stewed.  President Obama’s name rarely crossed my lips; instead I referred to the “current occupant of the White House.”  I certainly wasn’t generous in my prayers for the duly elected president, even knowing that in my miserliness I was willfully ignoring a clear scriptural mandate.   I really disliked Barack Obama, and his policies, and his executive orders, and his world view.  My opinion never changed for the entire eight years of his presidency.  I still don’t like anything about him.  But sometimes my strident opinions made me insufferable – so much so that my wife wrote a piece, four years after the 2008 election, gently chiding me and others like me and suggesting that we give it a rest already.

But – to my knowledge – I lost no friends who thought the president was the cat’s meow.  I set no trash cans on fire.  I walked for exercise, but I didn’t march.  (I did suggest that if Texas were to secede, I would move my family there.  But it was mostly a hollow threat, being the California lover that I am.  Little did I know that my daughter later would move there on her own, to attend the best university in the state.)  I never wore a pin or affixed a bumper sticker proclaiming “He’s Not My President.”  No, I respect the United States of America and its Constitution even when I’m unhappy with election results.  I just got on with doing life.  I did leave the country after the 2012 election – but it was for an interesting job opportunity, not because I was fleeing a country I increasingly no longer recognized.

In my lifetime, which includes all presidential elections since 1968, there have been very few instances when most of the country was satisfied with the election result.  We’re a big, messy, raucous democracy and we are unlikely to do much better than get about 50% of the country to come to our side of the political ledger.  In fact, in 2016 – just as in 1992, 1996 and 2000 – no one was able to get 50% of the people on his or her side.  That’s our reality as a country of fifty sovereign states with dramatically different cultures.  We just need to get on with doing life.

It’s unlikely that opponents of Donald Trump are ever going to support him or his policies, let alone like him.  But I hope we don’t detest or deplore those who do support him, or wish for his own failure.  As always, the Bible shows the roadmap to follow:
  • Love one another.
  • Pray for those in authority.  Pray that they would lead with wisdom and discernment and with gentleness.  As unlikely as it may seem to you at the end of January 2017, pray that President Trump will emulate King Hezekiah.
  • Pray for the other side.  (This one is too important to rely on your actually clicking on the hyperlink; here are the words of Jesus from Matthew chapter 5.) 
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
  • Take some action that helps someone less fortunate than you.  Be a mensch.
  • In general, put a sock in it, unless you’re at a meeting of a political action committee.  Not everybody is going to agree with you, so it’s best to just accentuate the positive.
  • Peace out.
Our polity may seem broken.  It’s no surprise; our polity is made up of imperfect people and imperfect institutions.  There’s only one perfect King, and only one perfect Kingdom.  Pray for it, as Jesus taught us:  Our Father in Heaven, thy Kingdom come.


  1. Well said Brother. I too did not vote for president Obama, did not like his policies and did not appreciate how he left our great country.
    I also didn't not vote for President Trump-I will pray for President Trump. I will pray that God gives him wisdom, that God grant him insight, that God show him that leading requires leaders to rise above and see the whole, so that he can do what is best in God's eyes.
    Unfortunately God has not blessed Mr. Trump with the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice- he needs theses in rich measure to carry the mantle he has.

    1. Thanks for reading, Tim. These are virtues we all must pray for. II Peter 1:5 et seq.: "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive." Another specific prayer point for the new president - and for myself.