So, this week was real. Real stressful at least. I honestly have really struggled to know how to react to the election. You can count me among the many that didn’t think Donald Trump had a chance to win. Wrong
You know, I have another job running a before school program. So, I was there at 7:30 am the morning after the election. With a mix of adult volunteers, NW Tutors, and elementary students. And it was like everyone was, I don’t know, emotionally hungover. The kids and adults alike really just struggled to concentrate. Struggled to process
And that is a feeling that I think many people are resonating with this week. So, We’ve decided to scrap our previously-scheduled talk for this today, and instead we’re devoting our service this to (hopefully) helping all of us process, pray, and hear from God in the midst of the any number of things you might be feeling after this election.
So, BLV is not political, we don’t take political stances on things, we will not tell you who you should vote for, you are welcome here, and welcome whatever you believe.
So, however you voted, super happy you are here this morning.
But I do want to just acknowledge the reality of our make up and the reality of the room Just by the nature of being in Chicago Having a culturally diverse community The basic demographics and make-up of this church
Just real talk for a second, the reality is that most people here are feeling let down, sad, and afraid that Trump won.
We are the pastors of this community and feel inclined to address the emotions we know to be in this room.
If you were happy with the results of the election, cool. I don’t mean to talk down on that
But there are people in our community who are Immigrants and feel afraid for what a Trump presidency means There are people in this community who worry about what this means for how our country views and treats women There is fear for what this means for those who themselves are minorities, or fear for our neighbors and friends who are minorities, particularly those who are Latino, black, and Muslim And there are several people in this church, myself included who have relied on Obamacare for health insurance.
So there are a lot of people in this community who are struggling to process how they feel let down by this election, by our country's politics And so we feel it is important to acknowledge and help people process this in the company of others and in the company of god.
But, the reality is that this feeling of disappointment has been something that most americans have felt A major reason that Trump is the president elect is because so many have felt let down by our country and it’s leaders, felt let down by our politics. And it seems to me that the result of all this disappointment is that whenever we talk about politics we see a lot of anger.
I mean, this isn’t an out there thing. I mean I have felt and gotten angry when talking politics this last year. There feels like there is a lot to be angry about
what I have come to find, and what I have felt to be helpful as I am trying to process this election year, is that when I am angry there is actually something else going on underneath. what is really happening is sadness and fear.
There is a well esteemed clinical psychologist named Dr. Thomas Gordon who calls anger a secondary emotion because we tend to resort to anger in order to protect ourselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is what is felt immediately before we feel anger. We almost always feel something else first before we get angry. And the reality is that underneath much of the anger we have seen in the election season is really speaking to sadness and fear that people are feeling.
Fear that we will be left behind Fear that we will be cast out Fear that we will be treated as secondary, or lesser Fear at what this will all mean for our country And Sadness of being mistreated Sadness at feeling a lack of opportunity Sadness at being talked down to and maginalized Sadness at seeing injustice seemingly undealt with Sadness at seeing a country that is split in half and apparently unable to even have respectful conversation with each-other.
You see that has been my step in processing this all, acknowledging that first and foremost, its sadness and fear that I am feeling, my anger is secondary
So, great first step, I feel sad and afraid. Wonderful. What do I do with that?
Probably unsurprising with me being a pastor, but my next step has been the Bible, and I am really grateful for what I’m experiencing doing that.
There are a couple passages from the book of Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible that has helped me as I am trying to make sense of our country right now. If you want to read along with me, you should find these in your program
Psalm 118 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Psalm 146 2 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free.
I wonder if you’re resonating with these psalms like I’m resonating with them
These psalms point to the wisdom that putting our trust in Jesus is unique in its reliability, promise and hope. It is better to take refuge in the lord than to trust in princes I think, at times the prosperity and privilege of modern America can have us begin to believe that our country is what gives us stability, gives us hope, and opportunity. (Although, this election would seem to suggest that that feels less true to many americans then we may think)
But, the truth is that Governments and politics are, in some ways, unique in their unreliability, When you look over American history Or the scope of human history It is hard to ignore how frequently the trajectory of where things seem to be headed swing back and forth Like the Soviet Union going to be forever a a world super power, until it wasn’t and fell apart almost overnight Or, if you were a Christian in the Ancient Roman world, one thing you could count on was being persecuted and treated secondary by the Empire, until Constantine came to power and then Christians became the privileged and protected group in the empire. Or, take Korea, it was under it’s own rule, until it was under various Chinese emperors, until it was under mongol rule, until it was under it’s own rule again, unitl was under Japanese rule, until it was independent again, until it split into what we now know as North and South Korea.
I think that this is what Jesus is getting at here. We should be careful to place our hope and trust in Princes, Kingdoms, and governments Because they are just as flawed as the humans they are made up of.
And in contrast, the Psalms encourage us to consider, Jesus is eternally constant, Jesus is eternally reliable, Jesus is eternally good. He was working for good in the midst of the ancient Babylonian empire, the Roman empire, in Medieval europe,
He was a source of eternal hope and reliability when Washington was president, Lincoln, Regan, Bush, when Obama was president, and he will be when Trump is president.
When things feel safe, stable, and peaceful Jesus is there And when the world feels out of order, perhaps even falling apart, Jesus is still there. He is our constant and trustworthy refuge
You know, there have been good and effective governments, and there have been terrible and oppressive ones, (that was much of the world in Jesus time.)
And we should care,
we should be invested in what kind of government we have.
Jesus said, when asked if his followers should pay taxes
"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
As in we should be involved citizens, pay taxes, We should vote, and lobby, and be politically informed, and develop thoughtful positions, and advocate for real and positive change.
And we should call out injustice, corruption, racism, and misogyny. Let there be no questions, those things are antithetical to the model and teachings of Jesus. But, we should do so placing our hope and trust in something bigger and eternally better than political parties, or systems.
We should do so keeping our hope and trust in Jesus,
because we never have to be concerned about the wisdom of his positions,
or worried we will be blindsided by his character.
Or that he will say something that seems to be aimed to belittle or hurt.
Or we never have to be afraid that he will put forth a platform that overlooks us, or overlook the needs of those who are so often missed.
We never have to worry that he will fail to accomplish his goals because of political gridlock.
No, Jesus is truly and sincerely reliable and trustworthy like nothing else.
And so he invites us to follow him, put our faith in him.
Promising that we will like our lives better if we do, that we will find our lives fuller and deeper, and more connected.
More resilient, and with much much more hope. And God knows I need that after this election year.
So I have 3 practical suggestions for us today as we try to process all that happen with this election.
Tip 1 - Bring your emotions and trust to Jesus,
I think it is really helpful to recognize that your outrage or anger, is very likely covering the surface of fear or sadness.
So, I first encourage you to bring that to Jesus. Maybe even ask for his help to get to what’s under your anger.
The reason I say this is because I believe Jesus wants to offer us the hope and healing we need.
That he wants to be with us and heal the parts of our hearts that are sad and hurt, and he wants to bring light and hope where we are feeling fear.
This is what it means to trust in Jesus, to look for him to bring you validation, healing, and guidance.
Even pray, maybe for the first time, I put my trust in you alone. That I will still be ok even when the world around me feels like it’s very much not ok, because I put trust in you not the world around me. And if we do start to feel some level of healing and validation in those places where we are sad, hurt, or afraid, then it will no longer feel like we have to make such a heroic effort to dial down our anger… our anger will lessen in intensity naturally… we’ll feel more calm, ready to face what is before us soberly, with wisdom and courage, not reactivity
Tip 2 - Bring your sadness and fear (not anger) to your thanksgiving table,
I say this both literally and figuratively.
Literally in a couple weeks many of us will be sitting at a Thanksgiving table, and, chances are, sharing a meal with someone (or someones) extremely different from us. And conversation about this election may come up, right? But, figuratively I mean this in terms of any place we find ourselves in relationship and conversation with people where the election comes up.
If such conversations come up “I am sad because...” or “I am afraid because...” has at least a fighting chance at being connective… Anger and outrage will almost assuredly further distances.
So, with that one Uncle that everyone seems to have that disagrees with you politcally When we lead with our fear or our sadness, there is space for actual conversation and connection. When I start by saying I feel sad that this happend, or I feel afraid that this may happen. Those are connective emotions. That is very different than expressing your outrage or anger at the injustice of it all. That will only create more distance.
In the end some such conversations may never be connective, and that’s challenging to swallow… but bringing our sadness and anger at least gives us a fighting chance
This is also the most helpful way to connect you with anyone feeling the same way you are… sharing anger keeps us in a loop… “Things are terrible” “Yes, I agree this things are terrible” “Ugh” “Ugh” That doesn’t actually get us to connection or consolation. but if we acknowldege that underneath the anger is real sadness and fear, and if we are vulnerable enough to share it, we can truly connect
Tip 3 - Pray for Trump
Paul, one of the most influential early followers of Jesus offer this instruction in his letter to a mentee of his, Timothy, who was living in a context very familiar with the reality of governments and leaders that let people down
1 Timothy 2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
Trump is going to the president of our country, So St Paul encourages us:pray for him as the leader of our country, that God would guide him, I want the leader of our country to have God’s voice intervening and leading. that in the quiet moments the HS would be speaking to him. That God would be at work on behalf of peace and dignity for us all. That God’s will would be on earth as it is in heaven.
And for those who feel especially sad and afraid right now. I think prayer for Tump is a powerful tool. That there is a God who is bigger and greater than the president of the United States. And that God is at work, and can influence things right now. even when you feel powerless.
Well, in moment I will pray, and we will enter into a time of singing and prayer. Something that spiritual communities have done for centuries. And I invite you to engage in that time in whatever way feels best to you. Maybe it is singing along and dancing. Maybe it is just sitting back and letting the music hit you. And, as we are doing that we will have a team of people in the back who would love to pray with you, It can be a really meaningful thing to have somebody else pray along with you. And I have found that God tends to show up in surprising and powerful ways when I have asked someone else to pray for me. It’s a safe and good group of people, no one is going to make you feel uncomfortable or give you unasked for advice. So if you will stand with me
Tip 1 - Bring your emotions and trust to Jesus,
Tip 2 - Bring your sadness and fear (not anger) to your thanksgiving table,
Tip 3 - Pray for Trump