Ed: I’m with Pastor Rick Warren pastor of founding, pastor of Saddleback, author of Purpose-Driven Life and lots of other resources as well. So, tell us what you can or should talk about this weekend.
Rick: Well, this is my 11th presidential cycle since I started Saddleback Church. And as you know, it I’m an avid fan and student of history. And if I weren’t a pastor, I’d be a history professor, probably a church history professor, but all the lessons are in the past. So, the seven things that I want to recommend pastors share or say through their flocks this weekend are not just biblically based—here are some historical reasons behind them, too.
1. Choose faith over fear.
A lot of people are fearful right now. Don’t panic; pray. Don’t worry; worship. Turn your thoughts to the greatness of God. There are two reasons why Christians should not be fearful during this pond, a biblical reason and a historical reason. The biblical reason is that we’re commanded to not be afraid. In fact, the most common command in Scripture is fear not. There are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible, one for every day of the year. The historical reason is that many elections have taken time to decide the earliest one was 1800, which took weeks.That was between Aaron Burr and Jefferson. And it took them weeks to decide.
2. Trust that God is in control.
Job 25:2 says that God is the one to fear because God is in control. If you fear God, you don’t need to fear anything else. The sovereignty of God is not meant to be a club, it’s meant to be a comfort. History is his story.
3. We have to be patient.
It’s not the end of the story. Now I’m not talking about the end of the election. The election is going to end at some point, but at the end of the story goes even long past our own lives. Your story, and the story of everybody listening will far outlast your life because you still have influence for good or for bad on other generations. And so, our story doesn’t end even with our death. And we have to realize that we’re the middle of a novel that we haven’t read. We know how it’s going to end in Revelation. We know the end of the story is that we win, but we don’t know all of the battles and the details in between the highs and the lows.
4. Don’t jump to conclusions.
Already, many accusations have been made by the candidate who’s behind. And we can expect more accusations, probably from both sides, in this court case that because both sides are trying to win the court of public opinion. But remember, with all of these accusations that are flying around, that some of them are not true. An accusation is not a fact just because somebody keeps saying it over and over and over, doesn’t make it true. There has to be proof. Rhetoric is not truth. It’s just words.
5. We have to look for lessons of this situation.
Never waste a disappointment, never waste for failure, never waste a disaster, never waste a hurt. You’ve already gone through the pain. You might as well learn something from it. And God wants us literally to learn from everything. We can even learn from our sins on what not to do and even our failures. Deuteronomy 11:2 says, remember what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him. Have you learned that he’s trustworthy? Have you learned that he can be depended on? Have you learned that he’s in control?
There are also things we can learn about our nation. In Isaiah 42: 24-25, this is what Isaiah says about the chaos in his nation:
“Who gave up our nation to looters? It was the Lord himself against whom we send it. We would not live as he wanted us to live and we would not obey the teaching he gave. So he made us feel the force of his anger and suffered the violence and his anger burned throughout Israel. But we never knew what was happening. And we learned nothing from it.”
Wow. We learned nothing from it. And my fear is if Christians don’t learn something from this, we’re making the same mistake.
6. Be empathetic with everybody.
There are as many reasons for voting for a candidate as there are voters—don’t assume that you know why people voted the way they did. It’s all a matter of prioritization. There were some people said abortion is the most important issue and they vote one way. And another one said, racism is the most important issue. And they vote another way. There are many reasons for voting for a candidate as there are rotors. So be empathetic with everybody. Romans 15: 2 says this: “We must bear the burden of being considerate of the doubts and the fears of others.” Whether they’re on the left side or on the right side, we must bear the burden of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others. Empathy means you use your ear more than your mouth. You listen, instead of speaking.
7. Look for things to be grateful for.
Gratitude is always the right attitude. It is the healthiest emotion, doctors say, and it is God’s will. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 reads “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you.” You want to know what God’s will for you is after this election? It’s to give thanks in all circumstances. Now, the key is the word is “in.” He doesn’t say “for”. You don’t give thanks for racial injustice; you don’t give thanks for a war. That would be masochism. It does say in everything, give thanks. And you can say, God, I thank you for the grace that you’ve shown me. I thank you for the plan that you have for my life. I thank you for the changes that you’re making in me. Those are the eternals that are not going to change. That’s why we look not at the things that we see, but at the things that we don’t see, because the things we see are temporary, the things that we don’t see are eternal.