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Put Not Your Trust in Presidents

Put Not Your Trust in Presidents

Tomorrow is sure to be quite the day. The whole world will be watching as Americans head to the polls to elect a new president, finally bringing an end to what has been one of the longest, nastiest, and most divisive election seasons ever. Whoever wins tomorrow will face an especially difficult challenge as he or she tries to prove worthy of the challenge ahead. No matter which of the candidates wins, a great number of people will be left gravely disappointed and more than a little disconcerted. Today I want to offer perhaps just a little bit of hope from across your northern border.

Just about a year ago, Canadians elected the Liberal Party of Canada to a majority government, making Justin Trudeau our Prime Minister. (A majority government means one party holds the majority of seats in parliament, allowing them to push through any agenda.) He became Prime Minister at a time when Canadians were eager for change—change toward a more liberal and licentious future. He was not the prime minister most Canadian Christians had wanted. As part of his campaign he had promised to legalize marijuana, he had said he would push forward with less restrictive euthanasia laws, he had even told prospective members of parliament they were not welcome in his party if they were pro-life. To no one’s surprise, the first year of his mandate has seen him push this progressive, liberal agenda. Next up is creating new laws related to gender identity and gender expression.

When I realized that Trudeau had been swept to power with this majority government, I was pushed to despair. A rush of gloom overtook me as I considered what it meant that Canadians had chosen this man, this party, this agenda. Little fears began to nag at me—fears for myself, for my children, my grandchildren, my church, my country. I can see where agendas like his must lead, and it doesn’t lead to safety or comfort for people who wish to honor God. Truly, it doesn’t lead ultimately to safety or comfort for anyone. Through biblical eyes I can see how his agenda brings harm to our nation and its people.

But an important realization began to draw me out of my despair. I found myself pondering the well-known words of Psalm 146:3-4 where the psalmist writes, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” I had no intentions of putting my trust in this new Prime Minister. But these words still spoke to me. They still comforted me because the psalmist admits his (and our) temptation to find hope in men, to put our trust in princes, presidents, and prime ministers. We know better. We know the futility of trusting in men. We know there is no salvation in men—men who were created from dust and who to dust shall return. But still we are prone to try to find our hope in them.

My temptation is not only to root hope in politicians but to root despair in them as well.

What really helped me was to understand that there are two sides to this temptation. My temptation is not only to root hope in politicians but to root despair in them as well. I will be tempted not only to find too much joy in the election of the person I voted for, but also to sink too far into despair in the election of the person I did not. Whether I soar too high or sink too low, I am declaring that I have put my trust in a man more than in God. I have forgotten that, ultimately, it is God who rules over and through earthly rulers. Too much excitement for my favored candidate or too much despair for the one I dislike—both are symptoms of the very same problem.

The psalmist gets this. He gets it and pushes back by declaring that our hope is to always be anchored in God: “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” In the rest of the psalm he explains why God and God alone is worthy of our confidence: He is the one who created the world, he is the one who formed humanity, he is the one who sustains all that exists, he is the one who keeps faith, who executes justice, who provides for our needs, who brings the wicked to ruin. He is the one who rules through good rulers and bad ones, through the ones I would have chosen and the ones I just can’t stand.

“The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 146:10)! Whoever is elected tomorrow, whoever has a mandate to further his or her agenda, it is the Lord who reigns. It always has been and it always will be.

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