Do Political Debates Stress You Out?

Do you get anxious whenever you talk about politics? If so, here are a few helpful thoughts to remember!

Do Political Debates Stress You Out?
Photo by Joshua Sukoff / Unsplash

How stressed do you get with politics?

Some Christians, especially those in America on the eve of the first presidential debate, place a high emphasis on politics. It consumes their thoughts, ambitions, and views of God’s activity in the world. They stress if the “wrong” person gets elected and are elated when their person achieves a position of power. However, Proverbs 21:1 helps us place political concerns in the proper place. This verse says, “A king’s heart is like channeled water in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever he chooses.”

In an age when kings were compared to gods, “This proverb shows that God has ultimate authority over world rulers.”[1] When we peel back the meaning of this verse, we see that “Just as water is directed to a good purpose by digging irrigation ditches and building dams, so the king’s heart will follow the directives of Yahweh to establish his purpose of justice.[2] As Bruce Waltke notes,

Farmers in Mesopotamia and Egypt divert the water by putting up dams and other obstructions in the stream’s flow to direct the water to their fields and gardens. Palestinian farmers depend on heavenly rain (cf. Deut. 11:10–12), but must have captured and directed the water to where it was most needed. Natural streams are not meant, because their direction is fixed. The LORD is the Farmer; the king’s heart is the flexible channel; and his well-watered garden is the pious and ethical needy.[3]

Throughout history, this example proved to be true. God raised leaders up, and he brought them down. Even leaders who wanted nothing to do with him, such as Pharaoh in the Exodus narrative, were used to accomplish his purposes. Thankfully, this reality holds true today as well. God uses both Godly and ungodly leaders to fulfill his kingdom purposes. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t pray, support, and vote for good people to hold positions of power, but we should do so with the right perspective.

As the King of Kings, Jesus exercises divine authority over all earthly powers. His life, death, and resurrection demonstrate that God directs history towards his purposes. He placed his life under the subjection of his heavenly Father to be directed however he wished.

Because Jesus is our example, this helps us understand God’s intent for us. Rather than resist God’s direction, we should be willing channels of his grace and love to others. If he directs us right, we turn right. If he directs us left, we turn left. In the words of Dallas Willard, it’s a sort of “relaxed obedience.” One where we do not resist God’s direction but choose to lean into it.

This week, I had British author, Hannah Steele on the podcast to talk about the mission of God. In this conversation, Hannah reminds listeners that God is always working in good times and in bad. It's his mission that is most important. This is an important reminder – especially during seasons of hot political discussion.

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[1]Life Application Study Bible, Accordance electronic ed. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004), paragraph 7430.

[2]Paul E. Koptak, ProverbsThe NIV Application Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 499.

[3]Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 15–31New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 168.