About a week before election day, we were just about to shut off the lights when our teenage son came into our bedroom and declared he couldn’t sleep. Anxiety about the election was getting to him, and he wanted to talk.
“There are gonna be riots no matter who wins,” he said.
I grabbed my glasses and sat up in bed, shaking the sleepy fog from my mind.
As he spoke, I longed for the days when I could walk into his room and vanquish the monsters with a loud roar. This time, he wasn’t scared of a shadow or the knocking of a pipe cooling in the night.
And his fear ran much deeper than mere policy preferences. At its core, he was most concerned that our nation seems to have forgotten the “bonds of affection” that once held us together.
If we’ve lost the ability to reason with each other, he argued, how can we ever move forward?
Walking through anxiety about the election results
I wanted to be positive and reassure my son everything would be ok, but I couldn’t. I shared many of his concerns. So, rather than throw some patronizing, out-of-context Bible verses at him, I went the other way.
We spent the next two hours walking through all the worst-case scenarios we could think of: loss of jobs, loss of freedoms, loss of safety, even loss of life.
I’ll admit it was a depressing conversation at times, but in the end, the words of Matthew 10:28 became strangely comforting. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…”
The truth is, no matter how bad things might get, our salvation is secure, and God’s love will never change.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
If politics are causing anxiety in your household, whichever side of the political spectrum you fall on, here are three thoughts that can help.
1. Don’t be anxious about tomorrow.
Political rhetoric is designed to elicit the exact response we were having. By painting worst-case scenarios, they can energize people to vote, protest, donate money, and even improve media companies’ ratings.
We can spend all day worrying about things people might do. But even if “the other guy won,” most areas of life will remain unchanged. You still have to take the dog out, study for the test, pick up the car from the shop, and figure out what to eat for lunch.
And there are still people within our spheres of influence that need to experience the love of Christ today.
We can’t let our imaginations about the future run so wild that we neglect the here and now.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
2. You can be the bridge.
The chasm between the two major political parties can seem too wide to cross. But Jesus crossed an even greater chasm to reconcile us with the Father. He calls His followers to join Him in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
When we are reconciled with God, we become citizens of a new nation (Philippians 3:20). Political parties become irrelevant. We may disagree on policies and methods, but Christ can live equally in both Democrats and Republicans.
If a brother or sister in Christ has a different view, we need to stop and think, “How could someone indwelled with the Holy Spirit hold a position I passionately disagree with?” Ask the Lord to show you where you might be wrong. Then discuss the issue with an open mind.
If you find yourself getting too upset to talk, the issue might have less to do with politics than it does your own heart.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
3. God is Sovereign far past the election.
Nations come, and nations go. Even if the world around us changes, God stays the same.
God was not surprised by the election results. His purposes were not thwarted, no matter how dark the situation might seem to one side or the other.
When Babylon destroyed Solomon’s temple (2 Kings 25:8-17), God’s purpose remained. After Joseph was sold into slavery (Genesis 37:18-36), God’s purpose remained. When Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:32-56), God’s purpose remained.
He can take our broken, sinful acts and use them for His glory. We may not always be able to see what He’s up to, but when we feel anxiety about the election, we can trust that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).
The “other guy” won – now what?
If the election results represent your worst-case scenario, the call of Christ remains. If the election results make you want to celebrate, the call of Christ remains. More than any political party or policy, our nation needs Jesus. It needs Jesus’ people leading with love and boldly proclaiming His name.
As we concluded our conversation that night, we realized that the anxiety about the election and the brokenness we see around us is a wakeup call. We cannot continue to live in our own little bubbles as the world around us drifts farther and farther away from God.
We must engage. We must reach out to those around us. Not to convince them that we have the answers, but to introduce them to the One who does.
This world is not our home.
Thankfully, Jesus will one day return and establish His perfect kingdom on this earth. May our reactions to the election never get in the way of people coming to know Him.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Carlos Santiago is a senior writer for FamilyLife and has written and contributed to numerous articles, e-books, and devotionals. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in pastoral counseling. Carlos and his wife, Tanya, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, with their two children. You can learn more on their blog, YourEverAfter.org.