I’m sure I don’t have to point out to any of our American readers—and possibly not our international readers either—that this has been a rough presidential election year for the US. Now, what I want to say here is somewhat political, but it’s more about who we are as people. So I hope you’ll stick with me in a dicey subject.
Many of us have struggled with who to vote for, and I’m not going to address that at all. That’s your decision, and I only suggest that it be made with prayer and consideration. But no matter who we vote for, there are some things I think we can and should do.
I was reading this past week about when Christ gave the Sermon on the Mount. As you may remember, He says this: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). This struck me forcibly as I thought about the news, the general world that we live in, and this election in particular.
There’s a nearly 100 percent chance that we will end this cycle with a president I personally am unhappy with, someone I am not naturally inclined to love (since, to be frank, I don’t like either of the major party candidates). Regardless of who wins, around the country there will be anger, name calling, scandals, fights. This is inevitable and I can’t change the general climate. But what I can change is my own response.
I can pray for the future leaders of this country, even if they feel like enemies. I can pray for those who show their displeasure in immature, unpleasant, and even violent ways. I can pray, and by praying I can increase my love (even if I still don’t like them).*
But how can you pray for them sincerely, you ask? I have given some thought to this, and here are some of the things I feel like I can genuinely pray for, no matter who it is:
*That they will be guided to choose the best possible advisors and friends.
*That they will listen to wise counsels to the greatest extent possible.
*That they will be moved to strive for nobility in action, even when it’s difficult.
*That they will experience the true joy that comes from choosing righteous paths, and that that joy will lead them to seek more good.
*That they will be protected from making choices that will lead to their own and others’ suffering.
*In general that they will find wisdom and then find joy in following wisdom’s path.
Are these not things that we can ask for anyone who enters an office, no matter whether we consider them enemies or those who despitefully use us? Are these not things that we should be able to pray for all?
I guess no matter how we feel about our elected officials this election season or any other, no matter how we feel about our neighbors, our acquaintances, the anonymous commenters on news articles, I hope we will find the moral courage and the true charity (AKA love) to pray.
*Yes, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to love someone even if you don’t like what they do or want to hang out and get pizza together.