Well, about 48% of the country is unhappy right now. Consider me one of them.
Like many, I’ve been invested in this election. Read numerous stories and blogs on the Internet. Followed the debates. Talked about it a lot. Prayed. Voted. And yet the same guy who was elected President four years ago is the same guy who got voted in today. Once again he’s talking about “hope” in front of a cheering Chicago audience. After the speech they played Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care Of Our Own.”
I would have rather had an election result that ended with Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
I’m not the only one who prayed and fasted for this day. At Church every Sunday (and daily) we’ve been praying or our country and for the election. Though the prayers never specifically said, “We pray Mitt Romney wins,” that seemed like an easy connection to make. We prayed for a president that respects the dignity of the unborn. We prayed for a president that respects religious freedom.
And yet we now have a president who seems to not care about either of those two important issues. He is more concerned with the rights of same sex couples to be married than the rights of unborn children to live. He is more concerned with the “rights” to free contraceptives than the rights of religious freedom.
So… were our prayers unanswered? Our novenas wasted? On the surface, it seems to be that way.
But God isn’t done yet. He just rarely answers prayers the way we think He will.
God isn’t into democracy. Jesus said, “Follow me,” not, “vote for me.” Though we might feel that our prayers for the election weren’t heard, God is bigger than an election. He’s about saving souls and changing hearts.
Abortions in this country are down. Why? Because abortion centers are closing due to movements such as “40 Days for Life.” This is the most pro-life generation the country has ever seen. Hearts are changing. That’s the work of God, not man. Man can create a law to make something “legal” or “illegal.” But only God makes things “right” or “wrong.” The law is external, the Spirit is internal. God is more concerned about the heart.
Same-sex marriage? Yes, it’s disappointing that same sex marriage won a popular vote in Maine and Maryland. Proponents say this is the beginning of a national trend (as if the 30 previous states who voted against same sex marriage don’t matter.) That may be true. But I think we need to do better in talking about what marriage really is. We’ve been hoping for a vote to “protect marriage,” but perhaps we’ve been too focused in “out-voting” the issue than explaining it. Now we have to be more articulate. I can’t see that as a bad thing.
Religious freedom? That battle is far from over. More lawsuits have been leveled toward the Federal Government on this matter than any other in American history, and most of lower court results have been respecting religious rights. Obama’s reelection doesn’t make the HHS mandate a slam dunk, though that would have been nice—just as it would have been a non-issue if Obamacare was flipped by the Supreme Court. But it seems we’re just not going to get any short cuts on this: the issue of religious freedom will need to be directly addressed by the Supreme Court. And that could be a great thing.
One “positive” thing you can say about Obama is that he’s done more to unite the Catholic Church in America than anyone in the past 50 years. He got every Catholic bishop to stand against him. He also did a lot to unite the Christian Church—remember Mike Huckabee saying, “Today, I’m Catholic!” Heck, he even got evangelical Christians to back a Mormon for president.
If we had woken up this morning with the headline, “Romney is the President,” we might have gone back to sleep feeling secure in one nation under God. We could be thankful that this HHS nonsense is over and we can go back to our lives. We could be hopeful that abortions would be reduced thanks to government intervention. That’s how I hoped to start the day.
But God does not want us asleep. He wants us awake. He wants us to do the same thing we’ve been doing: pray, work, and fast for our country.
If we thought we could wake up and feel safe about these issues because Romney got elected then we’d be as foolish as those on the other side of these issues who think Obama is the “savior.” We can’t depend on the government for our spiritual “welfare.” We’ve got to go out and proclaim God’s truth with our lips and share His love from our hearts.
I’m bummed that Obama won. I know a lot of people who worked really hard during this election and I can’t imagine how devastated they feel: any time you spend work on a “failed” effort it’s always heart-breaking.
But I still have hope, and not the “hope” that Obama talked about to a cheering crowd this morning. His “hope” was optimism based on the human spirit; our hope is rooted in Jesus Christ and in His saving power. The hope Obama offered four years ago hasn’t materialized, but our hope in Christ is “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb 6:19.)
The re-election of Barack Obama means that Christians in the United States have to stay united and actively proclaim the truth of the Gospel if we are to protect the values we believe were given to us from God. It means we have to pray more, work harder, and be more active in sharing our faith. If we do that, it would be a more important “result” than any political office we could ever vote for.
I’ll end with what we prayed in Mass this morning: ”The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)