In God we Trust
After a long and brutal campaign, this year’s presidential election is finally over. Maybe you stayed up on Election Night to watch the results come in or woke up this morning to hear what happened. Because of our divided politics, you probably met the news with both hope and relief, or the opposite: fear and dread. While many will attribute these emotions to the quality of our candidates (or the lack thereof), the real source is much more significant.
First appearing on U.S. coins in 1864, our national motto was eventually adopted to be
“In God we Trust.” It’s a good reminder for how we handle our reliance on money, but I’ll leave that for another reflection.
For today, it’s also a good reminder when the news of the final results bring so many to such extreme reactions, after so much attention has gone into the election of our next president. At this moment of such intense hopes or fears, we would do well to remember our national motto: In God we Trust. If our trust has been in Clinton or Trump—that they would provide something so essential that their victory or defeat engenders either a strong response of elation or dread—it’s time to remember in Whom we really need to place our trust.
Our elected leaders have a solemn responsibility to fulfill their duties, but we also have a solemn responsibility: to not place trust in them; that’s due to God alone. Psalm 143 leads us to pray important words: “Put not your trust in princes and sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.” In God we Trust. Sure, we hope our politicians will work hard, make wise decisions, and lead our nation well. Sure, we hope their decisions enable the lives of many to get better. But nothing they do can lead us toward—or away—from salvation. Again, the Psalmist corrects us: “ Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people” (Psalm 3:8). The only eternally important goal in life is our salvation, and for that, only In God we Trust.
Because of that, there is no need, indeed no place, for the extreme reactions we see in our country today, and even to which we might be tempted. No matter on which point of the spectrum between elation and terror our reaction lies, if indeed In God we Trust, we place an appropriate level of hope for success from the work of our leaders, and wish them well. But we temper that hope by a faith and trust in God, and in Him alone.
What a blessing that following such an intense focus on worldly concerns that a hard-fought campaign brings, we are invited to a very different focus, beginning one week from today. When the Nativity Fast (also called “Advent”) begins next Wednesday, we can welcome this opportunity to refocus any misplaced trust in “sons of men” and place that trust in the Son of God, the only One who can offer us the only thing we need: the salvation of our souls. Thankfully, and with great relief, we can work to say with newfound depth, assurance and peace, “In God we Trust.”