Thank God for Joe Biden

Edit: at the time of writing, Joe Biden is not the president-elect. I wrote this anticipating that he would eventually become the president-elect, but failed to make it clear that he is merely projected to be the president-elect. The electoral college votes on December 14th.

Joe Biden, Projected President-Elect of the United States (at least, he is for now)

Well, this has been quite the week.

Obviously, things are far from "over" as we all anticipate the inevitable legal and court battle over the election results. My anticipation is that things will stand as they are, with Joe Biden being the President-Elect of the United States. If there was no widespread voter fraud, then Biden is the legitimate President-Elect and should be dutifully sworn into office in January. But even if there was significant voter fraud that swung the election from Trump to Biden, I'm a bit skeptical that our system that allowed this to occur in the first place will be the knight in shining armor that comes to the rescue to vanquish the evil that is within. Therefore, I am preparing myself for a Joe Biden—and potentially/eventually a Kamala Harris—Presidency. 

So, now what?

Now, we pray.

Up for the Challenge?

On November 1st, I taught a lesson from 1 Timothy 2 that has been a personal challenge for me, and I write here to challenge you with the same text:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. —1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)

Notice a few details here

First, that this is behavior that Paul urges. Paul's whole letter was written about how the church should conduct herself (1 Tim 3:15), and the first thing that Paul writes is about praying for all, but especially for kings and others in authority.

Second, he uses a four-fold command about how to be praying for others: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving. Though there is some overlap in these words, each word's meaning has its own nuance: 

  1. Supplications are requests or entreaties. We come before the Lord asking him for things
  2. Prayers is a more general term that carries the idea of simply holding up someone/something before the Father
  3. Intercessions has the idea of praying on behalf of someone else, with their requests, needs, and desires in view, and
  4. Thanksgivings is just as it sounds: thanking God for these individuals.
Third, he writes that such prayers should be directed for all people, but especially for kings and all who are in high positions, i.e. any in positions of authority, be they emperors, governors, mayors, legislators, justices, or presidents, we must pray for them.

When President Trump was elected to office in 2016 and in the years following, I have heard so many Christians expressing their thankfulness to God for him. In fact, I can confidently say that in my short time on this earth, I've never heard so many Christians pray for and thank God for a governmental official more than President Trump.

But how many of those same Christians prayed for President Obama during his eight-year stay in the White House? And I'm not talking about imprecatory prayers, I'm talking about the prayers that Paul describes in the passage quoted above. I know for my part I certainly did not pray much for President Obama, to my own shame. 

Many thank God for the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, but how many prayed for and thanked God for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Is that not what this passage calls us to?

When Paul wrote First Timothy, Emperor Nero was the supreme ruler in the land. If you aren't familiar with this era of history, Nero was one of the most wicked emperors Rome ever had. Between murdering his own mother, a stepbrother, and two of his wives, and severely and mercilessly persecuting Christians for their refusal to honor Cesar as Lord, Nero's reputation was well-known and quite feared. And yet, Paul writes to Timothy urging the church to pray for and thank God for kings and all who are positions of authority. 

I don't know about you, but this hard for me. How do I thank God for a man who represents a platform that is so diametrically opposed to a biblical worldview? When I pray out loud "thank you, Lord, for Joe Biden" I nearly stumble on the words and they are difficult to pass my lips. I find that I must first pray "Lord, help me bow my heart before You in obedience to what You have commanded, help me submit my will to Yours"

Finally, When Paul gave that command, he did so for a reason, and that reason is recorded in the last part of verse 2: "that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way"

Paul's desire was that we be untroubled from pressures from without and free to live godly lives within. Pray for your leaders, so that we may live in peace and flourish in the faith. In light of this, it's a bit ironic that we would struggle to pray for these leaders. With the way most Christians are concerned about what a Biden presidency means for this nation, you'd think we'd pray for him more than ever! After all, Paul directly says that doing so is for our own good! And yet, we struggle because we (myself included) find it hard to swallow our own pride and thank God for what He is doing. If Biden is sworn into office, God is the one who placed him there. Thank God for that.

Now, praying for and thanking God for these leaders does not mean we support their agenda, it does not mean we pray for their agenda to be successful or anything of that nature. We can simultaneously be grieved at actions and policies that are advanced and thank God for these leaders and for what the Lord is doing in the world, even if we don't understand it. This is part of what means to walk by faith.

And as long as the wicked prosper, we can comfort ourselves with Psalm 37

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. —Psalm 37:7-11 ESV (emphasis added)
Until Jesus returns, there will be wicked rulers. But fretting only leads to evil in our own hearts. Until He returns, we must be still, waiting for the Lord.

Conclusion

Unless something changes, Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Praise the Lord! Thank God for Joe Biden! As difficult as that might be, that is our Christian duty. Perhaps God may use our very prayers as the means through which He saves Joe Biden!

"Father, as I pray this before You today, You know my own heart. You know how difficult it is for me to thank You for leaders I'd rather not have. Please cause me to submit my own will to Yours. Receive this prayer today and be glorified through my offering. Thank You for President-Elect Joe Biden, and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris. Though I did not vote for them nor desire their leadership, this is who You have ordained for this nation. Help me to honor them as your Word instructs (1 Peter 2:17). Thank You that You have made them in Your image, after Your own likeness. Thank You that You know what You are doing in America, that Your ways and thoughts are higher than my own. I pray that You would save them. They have gone their own way and have forsaken You. Have mercy on them and save them. Make them aware of their need for you! As for me, create in me a humble and contrite heart. Help me forsake wrath, anger, and fretting. Cause me to rest in you. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

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