by Peter Ditzel
2 Nov. 2016: The 2016 presidential elections in the United States have grabbed global headlines, titillated followers
with scandal, and troubled American voters to what is almost certainly an unprecedented scale. Naturally, we can expect that since the United States is arguably the world’s only superpower and its policies inevitably affect other nations, the campaign to elect its next leader will attract worldwide interest. Yet, this year’s election has riveted attention largely because of the shock effect of the personalities involved. The nominees for the two major parties are seen by many as the worst and most alarming U.S. presidential candidates ever. To understate the case, neither candidate is inspiring great confidence. In fact, a recent Harris Poll survey conducted for the American Psychological Association revealed that the election is causing high stress levels in 52 percent of U.S. adults irrespective of their political affiliation. Are the hype, mania for the latest scuttlebutt, worry, and depression justified? Or is there a comforting factor in this election most people are not seeing?
It Certainly Looks Bad
Based on the stressful events we’ve had in our own lives and our interaction with others, I think many of us would agree with this statement: “It’s easier to take stress in your stride if you have confidence in your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges” (“Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes“). A fundamental cause of anxiety in people’s lives is a feeling of powerlessness when faced with an external stressor. In other words, you stress out when you face a problem and feel that there is no choice or action you can take that will make a positive difference.
This, I think, helps to explain the mental and emotional strain the American public are feeling as they approach this election. They believe that neither candidate is a good choice. Even though they can vote, which is a way of making a choice, a great many Americans see both candidates as very bad choices, so that, even if their candidate wins, they are not hopeful for the future. Whoever wins, they see the next four years not only as bleak, but scary.
In 2008, I wrote an article called, “Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils Is Evil.” I stand by what I said, although in this election, I personally don’t see either of the two evils as lesser. I’m not alone.
Polls show, “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the two most disliked presidential nominees in modern American history.” Why? There are probably many reasons, ranging from abuse of women and racism to emails and Benghazi. It seems that the American public has trouble relating to either candidate, seeing both as privileged elitists and mistrusting them as liars. As, Peter Roff writes on usnews.com, “In fact, both are seriously flawed individuals, so much so that either would make King Lear seem well balanced by comparison…. In their own way each is as bad as the other” (“Pick Your Poison“). Some writers have even made cases for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being sociopaths (“Glenn Beck labels Trump a ‘sociopath’” and “Hillary Clinton’s lying is the behavior of a sociopath“).
In the past, candidates for political office have had their chances ruined by a single scandal. So many scandals have afflicted Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, however, that neither emerges with a clear moral superiority. To quote Peter Roff again, “Are we really being forced to choose between an allegedly repentant career misogynist who speaks in word salads and an unrepentant, untrustworthy, scandal prone career politician? Sadly enough the answer is yes” (“Pick Your Poison“). Beyond personality traits and scandals, large numbers of voters are concerned that both of the candidates have the very real potential to ruin the U.S. (and possibly world) economy, threaten constitutional rights, offend other nations, lose key allies, start a major war, and widen the gaps in an already fracturing U.S. public.
So, humanly speaking, whoever wins the presidency, and whoever loses the race, the real losers look to be America and the rest of the world. Why is this happening? Don’t we deserve better? Maybe not. Maybe God is giving the United States and other nations their just wages.
God? What does God have to do with the election? Everything. Daniel explains, “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men [or women]” (Daniel 4:17b). God has already determined who will be the next president, and He is going to give us the person we deserve. Concerning idolatrous Israel, Hosea 8:7 says, “For they sow the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind.” The principle remains the same today.
You can’t read through the Bible without seeing that, aside from the mercy and grace God will give us only when we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, God, though He may be long-suffering, eventually gives people and nations their due. You only need look around at the godlessness, the selfishness, the lack of love, the rebelliousness, the licentiousness, the violence, the corruption at all levels, the greed, and the
sin-driven madness to know that God would be perfectly justified to punish the United States and other nations (you may want to read, “He…first destroys their mind“). Is this what He’s about to do? I’m not a prophet. But you don’t have to be a prophet to make a good guess at a weather forecast: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ In the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you can’t discern the signs of the times!” (Matthew 16:2-3).
The King of Kings
What is crucial to realize is that God tells us, “Do not trust in princes, or in human beings, who cannot deliver” (Psalm 146:3,NET Bible). Trusting in even a relatively good candidate is looking at the world through carnal, spiritually blinded, eyes. When we’re born again, God heals us of our spiritual blindness: “Unless one is born anew, he can’t see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When we’re looking at the world through spiritual eyes, seeing the kingdom of God, we see that whoever wins, he or she won’t really be in charge.
You see, above the President of the United States is the King who is controlling the President and all leaders for His purposes. And believers can be sure that, however dark physical circumstances may seem, His purposes are good. Prophesying of this King, Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of Armies will perform this.”
This is, of course, speaking of Jesus Christ, “who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Of course, Paul, as he wrote this, knew that there were plenty of other rulers in this world, but he called Jesus the only Ruler because He ultimately rules even the rulers. He is the King over kings, the Lord over lords, the ultimate head of state over all others, the only Ruler over the entire earth. After His resurrection, Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).
So, if there is a storm brewing, and there are good indications that there is, what are we, God’s people, supposed to do? I’ve lived in and near what’s called “tornado alley” for many years. Around here, people often have what they call “hidey holes,” storm shelters built into the ground. Jesus is our shelter from life’s storms: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me secretly in his pavilion. In the covert of his tabernacle he will hide me. He will lift me up on a rock” (Psalm 27:5); “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust'” (Psalms 91:2). We are probably all familiar with Jesus’ parable of the house built on sand and the house built on a rock (Matthew 7:24-27). If we are built on the Rock of Jesus, we need not worry about the storm. “So that with good courage we say, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6).
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Discern the times. Watch. Fear not. Pray always.
He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
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