By TOM MAY
When a big event in life occurs and doesn’t go the way we want, we tend to ask “what if.” What if we had done this differently? What if we had tried this instead? What if we had won, how would things be different?
If the elections didn’t turn out the way you wanted, which “what if” questions will you ponder? Let me suggest three.
What if my candidate did not win?
The winner doesn’t share my beliefs or ideals. The plans and policies of the winning administration appear to be heading in the wrong direction. Freedoms and rights seem to be compromised.
In his first letter to his friend Timothy, Paul tells the younger man to pray daily and fervently for kings and all who are in authority that they may rule in such a way that we might live peaceful and godly lives. He instructs that the very position of authority is ordained by God — regardless of whether a godly person is occupying the throne.
Paul certainly practiced what he preached. The Roman Emperor when Paul wrote the letter was Nero, one of Rome’s most cruel and evil rulers — the same Nero who would burn Christians as lanterns in his garden and would behead Paul only a few years later.
What if my cause was not championed?
It is easy to be discouraged when things that you feel are important are pushed aside by others — sometimes in favor of the exact opposite position. Why don’t others see what this decision will lead to? How can someone not be concerned about this issue?
Let’s follow an absurdity. Let’s say the winning candidate was in favor of chewing gum, but you believed chewing gum was detrimental to your health, the safety of others and your own spiritual well-being. The gum-chewers are now in control and before you know it, you will be stepping in discarded gum wads in parking lots and fields everywhere. It’s frustrating when you didn’t watch where you stepped. It’s a pain to clean off. But inside you’re disappointed and hurt that no one else sees this as a problem. What do you do?
The answer is — pun intended — at the grassroots level. Continue to talk to individuals with whom you have influence. Help people to see why this is an important issue. Show people where they should and shouldn’t walk — not by yelling at them, but by showing the way.
Figure out ways to provide better lighting for the path. Stoop to help those who are scraping gum off their shoes. Provide compassionate, non-gummy alternatives for those addicted to gum chewing. Make sure people see that you are genuinely concerned for them, not just your own convenience.
What if it feels my hope is gone?
David, perhaps Israel’s greatest biblical King, proclaimed in the middle of Psalm 20, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Government programs may come and go. Godly leaders may be as scarce as million dollar lottery winners. Don’t be tricked into putting hope solely in people who can be voted out of office next term, or change their direction before the term is over.
David’s psalm begins and ends with a prayer for the king. May his path be protected by the Lord; may the Lord hear us when we call. May he experience victories over evil; may his soul be saved.
What if … I prayed for our leaders like that?
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.