Hothouse Flowers or Wild Flowers?
This campaign was the most brutal I have seen in the four decades I’ve been alive. Like a broken oil well, this election tapped into dark matter that’s always been sitting beneath the fragile crust of our political correctness, and spewed it over the airwaves for all of us to see and taste. It was not pretty. We’re still trying to wipe off the muck.
Perhaps some of us would have thought this messy process would be worth it if the candidate of our choice emerged the victor. But for many of us this is not the case. Donald Trump is the President-elect, which means that even as we are attempting to recover from the concussive blows of this election cycle, we now have to deal with this new reality of a Trump-led America.
For most of you this will not be easy. As your Pastor, reading Facebook posts and seeing all the fear and pain and heartbreak was painful. And I understand… I am a person of color, a son of an immigrant family. I have three daughters. My spiritual family at Renew is incredibly diverse in ethnicity and class. I understand why Trump’s vision of America is deeply unsettling.
It would be foolish of me as your Pastor to blow past the pain and demand that my church to just “chin up.” This has been an excruciating process where we have seen disturbing images and messages spill out of the bowels of our nation. And there is genuine fear that the worst aspects of Trump’s support will be emboldened to spread hate and bigotry. I pray to God that Donald Trump did not mean half the things he said; that it’s part of his craft and not his creed. But the fact I even have to pray this is reason for genuine grief. So at the very least, I want our church to a safe place where such lament can be said and shared.
This is not easy church. And it will not be easy for some time.
If you are at Trump supporter—and I know there are Trump voters who reluctantly voted their conscience and therefore should not be immediately labeled a racist or misogynist or xenophobe—I ask that you please understand and give room for people to process how they feel. You might have seen him as the lesser of two evils, but the specific evils he is associated with is particularly hurtful to people of color, to women, and other groups who have been marginalized.
So again, this is not easy. It requires space. Please respect that.
But having said all this...Donald Trump is the President-elect.
This IS our reality. And, as your pastor, I want to share some wisdom that will hopefully bring perspective that will help in the healing.
I once heard a parenting illustration of how we want to raise children who are WILDFLOWERS not HOTHOUSE flowers. Hothouse flowers can only bloom in perfect conditions. Any adversity makes them wilt. Wildflowers on the other hand are designed to bloom in the wild, where nothing is predictable, and often the soil or weather are not ideal.
I think about the kind of followers God wants; the kind he redeemed and saved through his Son, Jesus. They were men and women who were designed to bloom under adverse conditions. If you consider the Old Testament, whether it be under Pharaohs, or the wicked Kings of Israel (only 8 of 42 were good), or Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonian Emperor) or Darius (Persian Emperor)—rarely did God’s people ever have godly leadership. And yet, God’s redemptive plan was never thwarted. Some of the most amazing aspects of redemptive history unfolded under the governing authority of abject evil. Jesus and the church are the most amazing examples. Jesus was born into the evil rule of King Herod, he was crucified under the evil rule of Tiberius, and the early church was birthed under another evil ruler Claudius. 54 godless emperors would sit on the throne of Rome in the first 300 years of the church. Christians were fed to lions, and lit like torches under their rule and yet the church thrived and spread across the known world.
We are wildflowers.
We are meant to stand in contrast to a broken, wicked world. When the world gets darker, we get brighter, more beautiful, more full of love and hope and dignity and power and life.
A flower blooming in a hothouse full of flowers is expected. A flower blooming in a rocky wasteland is a miracle. We have always meant to be miraculous wildflowers.
Here are a few ways we can bloom in a Trump-led America:
1) Know that God raises up rulers and deposes rulers (Daniel 2). There are sovereign plans of redemption we cannot yet grasp but are at work—even through a Trump presidency. Have peace that God is still in control.
2) Put our faith in God and not human authority. There is room for grief, but not for despair—because despair indicates idolatry. Clinton or Trump cannot save us or our country. Only Jesus. Jesus is the only hope for a better America.
3) Know that the mission of the church has not changed; it’s only grown more urgent and relevant. We are to be a contrast to bigotry, xenophobia, bullying, and misogyny. As the environment grows darker, our lives of LOVE and MERCY and COMPASSION and HUMILITY can stand brighter.
4) Pray for President-elect Trump. If God can change Nebuchadnezzar from a blood-thirsty tyrant to a humble worshipper of God, God can surely change President-elect Trump. We are commanded to pray for our rulers and authorities (1 Tim 2:2). If you dislike Trump, then pray for him all the more that God will help him and change him.
5) Be the change. If we want a kinder, more inclusive, more loving America—let’s start by the way we live. Let’s listen lovingly and speak lovingly with those we disagree with. As followers of Jesus, let’s serve the marginalized. Let’s stand in the gap and advocate for those who have no voice. I pray that all this frustration towards a Trump presidency will not lead to bitter paralysis, but loving action.
This is our time, Renew.
We will take a moment to grieve and get adjusted (help us God), but we are wildflowers.
This is how God designed us and He will help us miraculously blossom in this adverse environment. That’s where I put my faith.