It is currently a season of change and division in America.
On all points of the political spectrum, people may be feeling fear and trepidation at who will be elected to top government offices. Is this fear well-grounded? Is this trepidation even Biblical?
Scripture suggests this may be the wrong response.
As Christ-followers, it is all-too-easy to fall into the trap of putting our faith in one human leader or another, instead of putting our faith in Jesus alone. With all of the vicious rhetoric and lines-in-the-sand that we encounter each day, how do we approach this season of change in a way that glorifies God?
I was recently reminded of a passage of Scripture that has been often quoted in the public sphere, and I believe that God communicates some extremely valuable truths within it.
Proverbs 3:5-8 says,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones."
I see at least 3 items that we can pull from this passage that will help us trust God during this season of change.
1) Lean On Scripture and Wise Mentors
The passage says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." First and foremost, this verse identifies the Lord as the one in whom we must trust with all of our hearts. But oh, how easy it is to trust ourselves, and how comfortable it is to use very few sources! I often find myself asking questions and voicing fears within my own limited internal dialogue, instead of opening those thoughts up to be examined by Scripture. I naturally lean into my own experience instead of leaning into what the Bible says about a given situation. In addition to the gift of Scripture, God gives us teachers and mentors who are close followers of Christ that can speak wisdom and understanding into our messy thoughts. Another verse, Proverbs 15:22 invites us to lean into them also, asking honest questions and allowing them to point us back to God based on what they have learned: "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed."
2) Remember and Acknowledge God's Character
The passage says, "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Instead of allowing Satan to use fear to divide us and push us into anger and malice, we must remember the depth of God's character. He is loving and all-knowing, gracious and slow to anger, forgiving and powerful, completely just and righteous, sovereign and in control, immediately present, and abundantly caring. When faced with change and divisiveness, we must acknowledge that God fully embodies and exemplifies each of these characteristics. He is our Father in Heaven. He is our Creator. He is our Shepherd. He is our Healer. If we forget these things about God, our path is sure to take some crooked turns. But, if we remind ourselves of these things and praise Him for these things, this verse assures us that He will guide us and straighten our path.
3) Don't Believe You Have All the Answers
The passage says, "Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." God has graciously surrounded us with folks who think differently than we do, and whose perspectives on a given situation may likely shed light on a blind-spot we have. If I start believing I am the only one who is "right" and every one else is "wrong," that's a major red flag. Pride leads us only to evil intentions. But God's wisdom is far above my wisdom. To "fear the Lord," is to respect and revere His vast wisdom and all-knowingness. The verse says that this pairs directly with turning away from evil intentions against those around us. Perhaps God shares certain pieces of His wisdom with me and certain pieces of His wisdom with others--if so, humility is the only option we have that will promote Christ-likeness during conversation with those with whom we differ.
The most encouraging verse in this passage is the last one, which states, "It (trusting in the Lord) will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones." Do we not all long for the deep breath of fresh air that comes when we have faith that God is in control? Like the crisp, evergreen-scented air of the mountains, knowing that we are all in God's loving hands is a healing and comforting sensation.
Although America is in a season of change, our Father God never changes. He always has been and always will be who he has revealed himself to be through Jesus Christ. He loves us and will take care of us. The whole universe is nestled in his arms and there is no human leader or fear-inducing change that can ever wrestle that control away from Him. Let us have faith and allow "all [our] hearts" to trust in our merciful Lord, and may this trust flow through us in a way that builds bridges instead of burning them down.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES