This coming Friday is Inauguration Day in the United States. It will be a day, not unlike eight years ago, in which a nation, torn in half by opposing views during a bitter and seemingly never ending political campaign, comes to grips with the finality of the results of the election process. President Obama was unique in that he was the first black president in American history. His nomination was somewhat of a surprise to his own party, which at the time, generally assumed that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party’s nominee. He was the first American presidential candidate to extensively use social media in the election process and was able to mobilize many voters who had not previously voted. In a similar way, Donald Trump is unique, in that he is one of the rare individuals elected to the presidency who has not previously been involved in politics and certainly his party did not expect his victory. Trump, like Obama, has also emphasized the use of social media to communicate his message and was able to mobilize voters who had not voted in recent elections. Like Obama, Trump enters the Oval Office without previous experience in governing and a great amount of speculation and skepticism as to how he will govern.
Many years ago there was another unique American president elected, who was not part of the Washington establishment and many felt unqualified to lead this great nation. Although he did not have social media in his era, he communicated to the people of this country in a unique way that reached into their hearts and gave them hope for a change in a time when the nation was deeply divided. He invited the public to come into the White House and personally share their concerns and opinions with him. At the time of his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln, my favorite president, inherited a nation bitterly divided and enthralled in a tragic Civil War. One of the reasons that Abraham Lincoln is my favorite American president is that he changed the presidency forever by openly talking about his dependence on God. For most of my life I have heard every president end a speech or a national address by saying, “May God bless the United States of America,” a practice Lincoln practiced regularly. It was Abraham Lincoln who called for a National Day of Prayer on several occasions, a practice that continues until today. It is that same Lincoln who thought of himself as “an instrument of God’s will.” Lincoln was more than a man used by God to end the horrors of slavery, he was a man who dared to govern a nation which had many faiths and many beliefs, from the simple premise that “the Almighty” was the only source of power and comfort the nation could depend on.
Today we live in an era of political correctness, but not of sound principles. Lincoln wrote his own speeches and letters, and they truly reflected his heartfelt beliefs. The modern American president has a team of speech writers and spin doctors which so shape the words we read or hear, that the heart of the inner man may never come across as intended, even to the president himself. President Trump has demonstrated that he prefers to speak directly to the American public by use of Twitter, a practice widely criticized and one that potentially could create political turmoil and push back from the main stream media. It remains to be seen if it is an effective strategy. Indications, at this point, seem to point toward a president who prefers to communicate directly to the people of the country.
Our prayer should be that President Trump will heed the example of his Illinois predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, of so long ago and make himself accountable to God for his actions and decisions. Lincoln’s actions have impacted this nation for the past 152 years, and the opportunities for this new president to impact this nation are just as readily available. The question is, will he choose to allow God to use him, just as Lincoln did when his opportunity came, and will he have the courage not to bow to the politically correct solutions of recent years, but to those which are “right” in the eyes of God.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Paul tells us, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time.” As believers we must pray for President Trump and his advisors. As followers of Christ, we only ask God to be able live our lives in peace, and to be able to share our faith with those who live around us. May Mr. Trump’s presidency be characterized by the acknowledgment that “the Almighty” is in control and that he as a president is an instrument which can be used for good by God, even by the one of the most unlikely of presidents, in the most turbulent of times.
May God bless the United States of America,