31 Oct election time
In case you didn’t know it, there is an election next week. It’s an unusual one, being played out against the backdrop of Covid-19, (which mercifully made the election campaign period shorter than usual). At this point you will be expecting me to tell you to vote. I won’t though, only because everyone else is doing that and, in my experience, the more you tell someone to do something, the less likely they are to do it.
Like most people, I follow the news each day, and this election appears to have raised anxiety levels among the nation to new heights. Each side on the political divide is claiming that Armageddon will swiftly follow if the other side wins. It’s hard to be a calm and disinterested spectator.
It is even harder when you add religion into the mixture, which is why I generally avoid doing just that. At the end of the day, I’m never 100% sure which side God would vote for – when both sides claim God as one of their own, who is right and who is wrong? This is risky territory for a Christian to enter, because you end up thinking the other side aren’t really Christians.
That’s what happens in politics: someone always wins and someone loses. That’s why it is better to keep your religious passion reserved for God, because with God you always win. Of course, we live in an imperfect world, but with God’s help we can usually make a difference somewhere, to someone, in some small way, regardless of who is in power.
This is a good moment to share an uplifting story with you. Ten days ago there was an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Next-Door Neighbors With Opposing Political Views Stayed Friends.” Next-door neighbors the Gateses and Mitchells, who live in Pittsburgh, have opposing signs for Trump and Biden in their front gardens. You might think this would be the start of a neighborhood version of World War III. Instead, the neighbors decided to send a message to the world: people on opposite ends of the political spectrum can actually like each other and be civil.
It sounds idealistic, which is why they have some ground rules. These are: Don’t argue. Don’t label each other. Listen to each other’s perspective, look for common ground and recognize that reasonable and good people can reach different conclusions. “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) is one of my favorite Bible verses.
If you are feeling anxious about the election, my advice is to sit down with the Bible on your lap and read aloud the verses which will give you strength and allay your fears. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10).
Let God’s words be a balm for your soul. The simple act of intoning the words of Scripture will give you comfort and a measure of peace. If you need to start somewhere, the psalms contain nearly all expressions of human emotion, including love, hate, fear and hope. Most importantly, they draw us into a closer relationship with God, who is our help in time of need.
Blessed be the Lord,
for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
Have a blessed and peaceful week. (and don’t forget to vote)