Did God’s preferred candidate for the presidency of the United States win? What if Donald Trump was not that individual and he or she lost at some stage of the election cycle or simply decided not to run in the first place? Is such a scenario even plausible when it comes to the sovereign Lord of the universe? In a time where roughly half the country—and likely more considering the historically low approval ratings of each major candidate—woke up this morning disappointed with the person that will spend the next four years leading this nation, these are important questions to answer.
There will be a temptation for many to find comfort in the idea that Donald Trump was chosen by God to lead our nation and, even for those who don’t like him, Tuesday’s results were all part of the Lord’s plan. That may be the case, but it doesn’t have to be. You see, it’s not an affront to God’s sovereignty to say that we are capable of making decisions that go against his will for our lives. It would be an affront to his sovereignty to say the opposite; to say that God is incapable of allowing us to govern our own lives because he has to be in control of everything. He made the sovereign choice to grant us free will from the moment of creation and our history since is full of instances where we have misused that freedom to work against his desired outcomes. Why should a presidential election be any different?
Take Israel, for example. God was clear from the start that he wanted to be their only king and leader, but they were intent on having a king like that of the other nations (1 Samuel 8). As a result, they got Saul. And while that situation ended rather poorly for Israel—the majority of their kings led them further away from the Lord—there were moments where God was able to work through Israel’s leaders to help his people. When they obeyed the Lord, things went well for Israel. When they did not, things began to fall apart.
Whether Trump was God’s first choice to lead America or not is irrelevant at this point and it does not infringe on the Lord’s sovereignty to say so. He has left it to us to use our free will to elect a leader and we have done just that. Who that leader is and whether or not we’re happy about it matters far less at this point than accepting that new reality and asking God what he would have us do next.
Those next steps start with a daily commitment to pray for the country’s new leaders (1 Timothy 2:1–4). Who Trump was before the election matters very little compared to who he will be going forward. Think of the amazing things God could do through him if he were to entrust his authority as the leader of America to the leadership of Christ every day that he holds office. That prayer needs to be our focus today and every day for at least the next four years.
Second, the president was not going to fix all of this country’s problems no matter who was elected. Donald Trump certainly has the capacity to help, but no one person, even one as powerful as the president, can single-handedly address the moral corruption and lack of respect for God that stand as the primary sources of our nation’s struggles. That’s on us and always will be, no matter who sits in the oval office.
That kind of reformation isn’t going to start on a national level. It’s going to start when God’s people start acting like God’s people in their everyday lives and stop looking for someone else to blame for the problems we’re now facing. Are we solely responsible for the issues that plague this country? No, but our failure to live each day as salt and light to a world in desperate need of both has and will continue to limit our ability to be part of the solution no matter who is president.
There’s going to be a lot of complaining about the election in the coming months (and years) along with the temptation to continue laying an inordinate amount of responsibility for the state of this country at the feet of our leadership instead of focusing instead on what we can do to help fix the situation. As you think about the character of Christ and the calling he has placed on each of our lives, which of those options seems most likely to result in a situation that he can bless? God’s preferred candidate may or may not have won this election, but either way our responsibility to pray for him
and for ways we can better embody the presence of Christ to those around us remains unchanged. Is that your focus today?