Commentary: Take a deep breath
As I write this on the morning after the elections in the United States, the air is filled with uncertainty. And being so divided in the United States, makes this time of uncertainty very stressful.
As a result, it seems prudent to issue some reminders today that might calm those feeling anxious.
The first and most important thing is that Jesus Christ is still Lord. I know that too often I fall into the trap of thinking that things rest only on my efforts. But that is completely and totally untrue. Any effort I make rests first on the grace of God that is freely outpoured. As we read in the book of Lamentations:
“But this I will call to mind; therefore I will hope: The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning— great is your faithfulness! The LORD is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
And so, regardless of who you supported or what result you want, take a deep breath and remember: Jesus Christ is still Lord, he still loves you and will always love you. Civil matters can be important, but they are never more important than this truth that God’s love for each one of us is eternal.
Second, this country has been here many times before. This is not the only highly controversial and contested election in United States history. Most of us probably remember the 2000 election, where results were not known for weeks. In 1876, the decision for president came down to the Electoral Commission, and Rutherford B. Hayes won largely, it is believed, on a deal made with electors. In 1824, trailing by a large margin in the popular vote, John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives. And while we are divided, we are certainly not so divided that states are likely to secede from the Union.
Third, the election is not in your control, but your response to it is. This reality is true for everything that happens to us in life. We cannot control what happens, but we can control what we do, how we think, and what attitude we take. We can choose to be kind, or not. We can choose to respect others, or not. We can choose not to be consumed by the news, social media and loud voices, or we can let these things overwhelm us.
Whatever happens, we still have a lot of work to do. Regardless of the outcome, roughly half of the nation will believe the election was stolen from them. There will still be significant #NeverBiden or #NeverTrump voters. We still face a pandemic, aspects of the economy are in trouble, racism is an issue. Regardless of who the next president is, these issues and others will still be with us.
And perhaps most importantly, our ability to address these problems will require us to look back at the art of compromise and to regain it in our lives. While this does not mean we surrender our principles, it does mean that we cannot always get everything we want. Sometimes we have to compromise. We have to work harder to seek consensus. We need to stop insulting and demonizing those who do not agree with us.
And maybe I am the eternal optimist, but I believe we can. I believe this because fundamentally I believe that God can bring good out of any situation, and I believe that with God all things are possible. We must resolve to work together. We must resolve not to look to win every argument, and not to prove to those with whom we disagree they are wrong, but to understand and listen. We need to look for information and news from a variety of sources, not just those sources that tell us what we already believe. It cannot be the case we look only to those with whom we disagree, but rather, we must also look inside ourselves. We are fundamentally better when we are together than we are apart. But despite everything, I still believe we are in this together and we can work things out.