One of my good friends, a lifelong Republican, texted me today saying, “Tell me this is going to be okay!!!” I think he captured the feelings of many in our country on this day after a stunning upset victory by Donald Trump, a victory that surprised even many of his supporters.
Clearly 48% of voters are happy with the results of the election. Many felt disenfranchised, fearful or frustrated over the last eight years. Many felt we’d been headed in the wrong direction as a nation. To them this election brings the hope that Donald Trump can in fact, “make America great again.”
The other half of our country is confused this morning, disappointed, angry or hurt. I heard from one young woman who took her daughter with her to the polls yesterday to vote, explaining how much this election meant for women. The results hit her really hard. Another, having seen the last eight years as a time of positive change, was in tears, angry and confused as she spoke to me about the election results.
The pundits and politicians will analyze the election results, seeking to tell us what they mean in the hours and days ahead. But the questions for me are, Where do we go from here? How does our nation come together? And, to my friend’s point, Will it be okay?
Yes, it will be okay. I appreciated Donald Trump’s acceptance speech and the spirit it conveyed; a lofty vision, a humility, a willingness to work together and a desire to represent all Americans. I also appreciated Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, which was moving and which reflected, despite the disappointment and pain of loss, a hopefulness and confidence in America’s future.
It will be okay because we live in a democracy whose founding fathers wisely created a system of checks and balances in government that are meant to spread power across the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Presidents do not rule by decree, they seek to lead and influence, and if they are ineffective, they and their party are voted out. It’s a good system that has served us well for more than two centuries.
It will be okay because, despite his shortcomings and unsettling rhetoric, Donald Trump has strengths that he brings to the presidency. As I noted at the end of worship Sunday, in elections no candidates are as bad as their opponents paint them, nor as good as they believe themselves to be. I do believe his strengths in negotiating deals will serve him well in Washington and perhaps help find win-win solutions to challenging issues we face.
I believe it will be okay because my hope and faith has never been primarily in politicians and political parties, but in Jesus Christ and the kingdom he proclaimed. He has a knack for working in and through people and in history in surprising ways.
I’m praying today for Donald Trump and his team — that God will ennoble them, and prepare them and guide them as they prepare to lead our country. I’m also praying for Hillary Clinton, her team and her supporters. Finally, I’m praying that we as Christians can be instrumental in bringing healing to the divisions in our country today, rather than making the divisions even wider. We have a mandate to forgive, to love, and also to “speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves” and “to do justice, and practice loving kindness and walk humbly with God.”
There are challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Today is a day of deep disappointment for some, and a day of elation and celebration for others. But tomorrow we have to come together as Americans to face the challenges, to seize upon the opportunities and to, together, find a way to help our country live up to its potential.