Well, we lost, and that stings. It wasn’t like we lost by a landslide either. Perhaps even more painfully, we lost with victory in sight.
All the Northern VA political operatives are engaged in a game of “coulda, shoulda, woulda” – “we could have released this ad instead of that one,” “they should have dumped more money into the race earlier,” “if the election had lasted a week longer, the health care rollout would have swayed the election.” Pundits are busy examining the numbers and talking about how it isn’t as bad as it could have been, and how the Democrats ought to be panicking about everything that’s happened in Virginia.
Good for them. We need the pundits to figure out the details and give us a chance to regroup. But at the end of the day, we still suffered a defeat. And that stings.
Persevering Through Adversity
In some sense, it gets more painful when we’re Christians. We’re working for what we believe is right, and we prayed boldly to ask for victory. We didn’t receive it. We know there’s a God, that he’s in control, that he governs all the operations of man and that governments and rulers cannot rise without his aid.
Presumably, he doesn’t approve of a candidate who has openly declared his irreverence for human life. Presumably, he doesn’t approve of a party that distributed lewd and crass campaign materials. It would seem that he would approve of those who have professed him publicly and zealously defended the things he loves and condemned the things he hates.
Yet we lost, and he could have done something about it. If he sustains all of reality anyways, surely he could have worked some minor way of bringing a different outcome. But he didn’t.
Maybe, then, we really weren’t in his will. Maybe we were mistaken, and God actually wanted us to lose. Maybe he’s making a point. Maybe he’s “playing the long-game,” and in the end, it’s all for the best, because it’s going to help bring about some victory at a more crucial spot later.
I’m skeptical about that, to be honest. I don’t like it when people try to spin situations to make them always turn out for the best. I much prefer to look bad things in the face quite honestly and say, “yeah, that hurts – a lot.”
We play these games, though, whenever we suffer a setback like this. We believe, step out in faith, go for God, and see the door slammed in our face. We ask if we could have done better, or if we weren’t in the will of God, or if he’s possibly doing something else we can’t see. We go through all sorts of crises of faith.
But see, Scripture doesn’t actually tell us to look for victory in political operations. It doesn’t tell us that our victory is secured in the promulgation of religious liberty, through the establishment of godly leaders, or, really, anything else this side of eternity. It points us to our final hope, that time when all things are reconciled to God.
If we approach politics with that focus in mind, if we’re grounded in the confident expectation that God has, is, and will be setting all things right, then we’re equipped to do politics Biblically. We’re prepared to face victory or defeat, because our motivation is not grounded in this world. Sure, when victories come, we can enjoy them. When we lose, it stings, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t shake our faith.
Then, grounded in that faith, we can regroup. The pundits can do their analysis, the politicos can form their strategies, and we all can reload and try again another day.
So I’m going to set aside all those speculations and questions, take a little time to rest, and then start gearing up for 2014.
Posted by Nick Barden
Photo: Ken Cuccinelli meeting GenJ volunteers on a Student Action Team.