“Let him alone and let him curse, for God has told him to.” – 2 Samuel 16:11. Rare is the person who can claim that God has spoken to them in a voice loud, clear, and unmistakable. But did you ever think that God might speak to us sometimes through a driver with road rage who cusses us out, like King David being cussed out by Shimei in the above Scripture? Or through an angry mob at the polls?
No matter what happens to us in life, we can look for what God may be trying to say to us. When we encounter cranky customers or neighbors, it may be a message from God to us: “Don’t be like them!” Critics can be a God-sent window into our own blind spots.
What is God saying to us through angry atheists who want to ban all religion from public life? Perhaps God is calling us to get our act together in how we treat unbelievers. What is God saying to us through the suicide bombers of radical Islam? Could God have a message for the secularized West about how decadent we have become?
What is God saying to us through the results of this week’s election? In 2008, citizens voted for what they believed at the time was hope and positive change. This time, a lot of voters may feel like they were lied to last time around. They may feel that those in power broke their promises of transparency and accountability, and shut out the opposing party with excuses like “We won the election” and “Now’s not the time for more debate.”
Can we explain the election results as knee-jerk, reptilian fear? The same could be said for 2008. The question is whether their fear is rational or unfounded. Voters may fear that the people in power are making the same mistake made by George Washington’s doctors, who mistakenly bled him to death. It was spending money we don’t have, on houses that people couldn’t afford, that caused our economic meltdown. Voters may fear that tripling our spending of money we don’t have will likewise bleed our country to death.
If you think the recent voter rebellion happened simply because the voters are stupid or evil, get real. Could it be that our neighbors across the aisle have a vision of justice that is similar to ours, they just have a different idea of how to get there? And if they are wrong, maybe we need to do a more effective job explaining ourselves, instead of imposing our vision by force.
God’s message may not always be what the speaker intends. God may not be endorsing the speaker’s specific claims. And God’s choice of words may not be exactly what the speaker says. And yet, we need to ask, what is God saying to us through the angry voices around us?
TOM HOBSON of Belleville, Ill., a PC(USA) pastor for 27 years, has degrees from Gordon-Conwell (M.Div.) and Concordia (Ph.D.), and is currently seeking a call.