I haven’t mentioned the 2020 presidential election on my blog yet. That’s because, while I of course have political opinions, I prefer to keep them off the internet. True to that philosophy, this post isn’t about who I think should win or speculating about paths to victory, but what to do while waiting.
One NPR commentator said that yesterday was “the longest day of the year.” It certainly felt that way, and there’s reason to expect that sense of being suspended in time to continue for quite a while, given how many voters used mail-in ballots. This has given me time to think about how to wait.
One option is to continually check the news, fretting while hoping for my desired result to appear. The analyses of a seemingly infinite number of pundits await my anxious gaze. Then, of course, there’s following all the lawsuits and protests and whatever else arises in the next few days. I could spend all day reading and listening to news about what’s happening or not happening, and at the end I’d feel just as bad or worse than when I started.
Or, because I’m a Christian, I can pray that God will give me the result I want. Please let my candidate win! I can throw that prayer out to compete with the presumably thousands of people praying for the opposite result. This kind of praying assumes a kind of omniscience on my part, that I know better than God what outcome is desirable. And it hijacks the free will God has given each and every citizen in our country, to think and analyze and decide for themselves who to vote for. Just because I deeply, viscerally disagree with one side doesn’t mean some kind of divine intervention should overrule the free will of people I disagree with.
Then there’s the third path: Praying, but praying for things God cares about. I’m not sure if God cares who wins the election, but I know he cares about people suffering. So I’ve focused on praying for our nation to have patience as we wait for results, for a peaceful new election, for national unity and healing, for greater social justice and equality, for wisdom in our leaders through the critical next few years of climate change, for a release from the fear-driven decision-making of recent years. Most of all I’ve prayed for us to remember that people are people, even when we vote differently.
I’ve also started listening once again to Timothy Keller’s Living by Faith in Troubled Times sermon series, particularly the sermon called “Waiting and Living by Faith.” In that sermon, he mentions a couple Bible passages worth meditating on.
First, James 1:2-4 (quoted here from The Message):
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Second, Romans 5:3-5, also quoted from The Message:
…We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!