He ran for Senate from his home state but lost. Two years later he ran for president against the man who defeated him in the Senate race, but received only 40 percent of the vote. However, that was enough to win the race over his rival and two other candidates. By the time he was inaugurated the next March, seven states had seceded from the Union and the Confederate States of America had been formally established. The war that ensued would cost more American lives than any in our history. He would be assassinated four years after his inauguration.
On November 6, 1860, the day he was elected president, who would have imagined that Abraham Lincoln would become one of our greatest leaders?
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, some Christians are elated and others are discouraged. Some believe that the Republican Party, with its emphasis on family values, is more aligned with God’s word and will. Others believe that the Democratic Party, with its emphasis on social needs, is more aligned with God’s heart for hurting people. But here’s a fact beyond dispute: the party that won this week will lose again, and the party that lost will win again. And on the political process will go.
Even when your party wins, there’s always another election. No matter your vocation, you’re never done. There’s always another deal to close, another test to take, another surgery to perform, another Cultural Commentary to write. Meanwhile, the moral fabric of our culture continues to unravel. But discouragement is always the wrong option.
In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah wins one of the most decisive battles in Jewish history. The prophets of Baal are humiliated and then killed; the nation falls on its face and cries, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God” (vs. 39-40). The drought Elijah had announced three years earlier was broken by the people’s repentance. A sustainable spiritual awakening seemed in the making, with the prophet’s national position secure.
But turn the page to 1 Kings 19, and we find the prophet running for his life. The wicked queen Jezebel has vowed to hunt him down and kill him, so he flees Mt. Carmel for Beersheba, 120 miles to the south and presumably out of the queen’s reach. In exhausted discouragement he pleads with God, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life” (v. 4). He is convinced that “I, even I only, am left” to serve God (v. 10).
But the Lord speaks to Elijah in a “low whisper,” sending him to anoint leaders and his prophetic successor. Then he offers this encouragement: “I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal” (v. 18). When you think you’re alone, you’re not. There are always more on the Lord’s side than you can see. And God is still on his throne.
If Abraham Lincoln had listened to the voices of discouragement, how different would our nation be today? Remember: God + 1 = majority. Always.