- Eldon Peterson
Responding to Election Fears
As Halloween and Election Day converge upon us, it’s hard to discern which will be the bigger fright night! For some, the election causes greater fear than the fright house down the street. Have you considered why? Why are the elections eliciting fear and anxiety in us?
We are likely to say that we are fearful of what will happen if our candidate does not win! But what does that say about where we have placed our hope? Is it not foolish to think that any fallible human can ease our fears or bring us the hope that we long for?
I have not listened to all the promises that our candidates have made, but I’m fairly certain that none have promised us a “hope that will not disappoint us.” Yet, isn’t that what we ultimately long for. Certainly, it may be wrapped in a good economy and health, but we know all too well that when we place our hope in these that we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. So, in the midst of trying times like these, where can hope be found?
Scripture tells us that only in Jesus Christ will we find the everlasting hope that we long for and need. When we have a hope that is greater than circumstances, greater than the outcome of an election, then we can face whatever afflictions may come.
Consider the pathway to hope that Paul offers us, “And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Why does this hope not disappoint us like the hope that we have in the economy or an election? Unlike unfulfilled campaign promises, our hope in God's promises will never disappoint us by being unfulfilled. When our hope is in God, we are absolutely assured that he will fulfill all that he has promised. This is ultimately fulfilled in the eternal promise that assures our resurrection to eternal life to be with him in glory.
But how does that help us today? How does this help address our fears of the “What Ifs” of the election? One thing that the Lord promises here is that when we will place our trust in Him, we will see and know His love firsthand. It is the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with God's love and who continues to encourage us as we place our hope in Him. So, hope for the believer in Jesus, includes a future worth rejoicing over and a present that will not disappoint!
Should our candidate not win, or even if they should, we are wise to remember Paul’s words in Romans 13 that remind us that every ruling authority that exists has been established by God. There we learn how human government’s authority is derived. What that means is that they are “the servant[s] of God” and “ministers of God” and as such they are accountable to God.
This means two things. First and foremost, the authority that God gives those who rule is a limited authority. Those in power hold their power because of God and can be removed by God, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.” (Daniel 2:20-21) Why has God given both evil and righteous authorities power? To accomplish His purposes.
Secondly, trusting that God has established those who lead for His purposes, we are to submit to them, but ultimately our submission is to the Lord not to human authorities. As seen in both the Old and New Testaments, this may mean submission to God over governing authorities. We see this in Daniel not yielding to the king’s demand to not pray (Daniel 3:12-18) and the apostles continuing to speak when ordered to be silent (Acts 5:29).
Our hope is not found in who wins an election, but in Christ who gives those who believe in Him the greater hope of eternal life. God’s people have served 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 are to trust in Christ who will not disappoint.