Election 2016: Do Not Despair

It is late afternoon during the week after the second debate and I sit with my eldest daughter watching her niece and her little sister play with dolls we’ve accumulated over the last 20 years. She is mournful.

“It’s my first presidential election and there is no one on the ballot who even comes close to representing the things I hold important. My first election and, no matter who wins, I will feel like I’ve lost,” she says.

I nod. We briefly entertain the thought of a valiant third party candidate on a white horse riding in on an extraordinary circumstance that allows his election, but then I acknowledge that this election feels especially crushing for political idealists.

“Yes,” she says, “and the Christians. This election disenfranchises the genuine Christians.”

I think about that for few minutes, watching two little girls play a timeless game of make-believe. And then I offer the suggestion that maybe it’s the Christians who move past these turbulent election year struggles with the most hope and confidence. If we never put our faith in men, then men can’t steal our joy.

The first thing to do today, I suggest, is to step away from the noise of the news. Step completely away. Our comfort is in the Lord and we cannot hear Him for the clamor of the media that is ever present in our hands. Don’t click there. Just for today, silence the noise.

Now, consider your life. Consider that practices and policies may be put in place following this election that will make living your faith more difficult. Consider that the leader of your country may be someone who does not share your moral vision. That very well may be the burden you bear. What does that look like and how does it shape your calling in the world?

You are a citizen of this country and you hold that citizenship dearly. But you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God first. Regardless of who is elected this year or any year, you will walk in faith. Nov. 9 will be no different from Nov. 8 in the true kingdom. How do you move forward as a young person who feels her voice has been silenced by a culture that is increasingly hostile to dearly held Catholic truth? How do you walk in a world where political leaders explicitly mock your faith? How do you hold your head high and speak values such as the sanctity of life and the care of the poor after an election that has marginalized the weakest and the neediest, and struck at the heart of dignity? How can you keep from feeling hopeless as a brand new voting adult when it seems like the shining city on the hill is tarnished and broken beyond redemption?

You walk in faith and not in fear. God is with you. Man does not redeem; God does. He goes before you. Your enemy is not of any political party here on earth. Your enemy is the evil spirit who prowls about the world seeking the ruin of your soul. Remember that and love your neighbor, no matter your political differences.

Don’t despair, dear girl, and don’t be afraid. God knew that His beloved children would have frequent occasions to be tempted to be afraid. I empathize. It all seems scary right now, but God tells us again and again not to fear. Are we on the brink of an age where Christianity is incompatible with the laws of our country? Perhaps. Is that a frightening scenario to imagine? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a spiritual blessing, the fulfillment of prophecy. To be a Christian is to invite persecution. We’ve lived fairly comfortably until now; there is the real possibility that your generation will learn what it is to truly suffer for faith. What does that mean for the young Christian voting for the first time?

It means you have to be much more aware of your home in the kingdom than I was at your age. You need to know your soul lives in the city of God. The days of complacency are gone. There is the very real possibility that our future holds more persecution than Christians have ever known in this country. But we are not to despair and we will not crumble in fear. Our hope has never been in the men and women we elect. Our hope is in the Savior who chose us.

So we get up again in the morning and we live as citizens of the kingdom of God, with all the rights and responsibilities of that citizenry. We continue to live the gospel of life. As the storm rages around us on a national and global level, we raise children in faith, we reach out to neighbors in need, we comfort the suffering. We persevere in living as we have lived, knowing that no matter who holds the elected offices, God wields the true power. We live in service to an almighty King. Just like we did before Election 2016.

As the days before the election move at a quickening (and sickening pace), remember that all is not lost. It cannot be lost.

God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all, how will He not also give us everything else along with Him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? ... I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31-39)

Our treasure is stored in heaven. No one can rob us of that as the polls close. The battle has already been won. God is for us. Our place in the kingdom is secure.