I was in the US during the Presidential Election.
On voting day itself, I (cautiously) asked a few people how they thought it would go. No one knew at this point and the reactions were varied.
A lady who was driving the hotel shuttle told me there was a palpable tension on the roads; everyone seemed to be in a filthy mood as they waited anxiously to see if their person would win. One chap, a recent Mexican immigrant told me he feared for his life if Donald Trump was elected. Another lady told me she feared for the future of her country if Hillary Clinton was appointed. It was intriguing to be there, to hear it all and absorb the tension, fear, excitement and anticipation.
On election night itself, I was closeted away in a hotel room with a TV which was frequently switched between Fox and CNN. My friend in Colorado and I were in constant iMessage communication all night, assessing what was happening, sharing things we’d found online, discussing what it might mean.
Eyes propped open with matchsticks around 12.30am, it became clear a Donald Trump victory was imminent. I watched on Twitter as my UK friends and family started to wake up to this momentous news, and then Social Media exploded.
Regardless of whether they were pleased or deeply upset, no one could believe it. What was happening? What did this mean?
And for the Christians, was this God’s plan all along? Or, did God not see this coming?
Most of what I read swung between extreme jubilation to outright scaremongering. The New York Times and Washington Post imploded, meanwhile at home, the Daily Mail was (figuratively) dancing in the streets. But overwhelmingly, the comments by most of the people I follow on social media were depressed and devastated. Fear, disappointment and outrage was woven through many posts, like the wick through a Christmas candle.
Perhaps I’m too much of an optimist, perhaps I’m living in cloud cuckoo land (seriously, is that even a place??), but despite it all, there was this sense in me of, ‘ok, this is not what anyone was expecting…but what if God has a plan?’
I felt the same after Brexit too. Surprising, world shaking events make me wonder if actually it’s God who is shaking the world? Perhaps this shaking, this turbulence is for a reason?
To be honest, my response to both events (among friends) didn’t go down too well.
‘Seriously? They said. ‘Are you joking??? This is a catastrophe!’
But the feeling persisted and it still does. It’s not about politics or being on one side or the other, but about trusting that nothing, absolutely nothing happens unless God ordains it first. If God ordains it, then it must be part of a bigger plan that I cannot see. It makes no logical, human sense, but then again, when did the ways and purposes of God ever make sense?
But the truth is (and I’ve discovered this through some pretty ropey times in my life) that God is often felt most powerfully, when our lives are not stable. When our structures and lives and circumstances are shaken, we need Him more than ever. He says He’s unshakeable, He’s the solid rock, the sure foundation, the God who doesn’t change.
So when everything around me is insecure, shaking and uncertain, there’s a God who is the same today as He was yesterday, and who will be the same tomorrow.
And for that reason, I have hope.