On Monday the Senate will begin impeachment proceedings against the now-former President Donald Trump.
The same political controversies that have embroiled our nation seem to continue on, with no end in sight.
As a Christian citizen, I’ll leave it to the lawyers and the politicians to sort out the impeachment trial itself.
As a Christian pastor, I’m concerned about the corrosive effect bitterness is having on the souls of millions of Americans.
A new Harris Poll last week revealed that Americans are experiencing the highest level of stress since the pandemic began and this escalating political division we are witnessing is a major contributor to that stress. Research shows that prolonged stress–including stress triggered by political anger—even decreases the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.
It is no secret that I was, and continue to be, an enthusiastic supporter and friend of President Trump.
I believe Donald Trump’s presidency made our nation’s laws more just by protecting unborn life and promoting religious freedom.
I was disappointed by the results of the election. During his first two weeks in office President Biden signed a number of executive orders that I find deeply troubling and wrong.
I have every intention of pushing back against the torrent of ungodly policies that I believe the Biden/ Harris administration will unleash on our country. But I refuse to allow that determination to devolve into an all-consuming anger that poisons my spirit and infects everyone close to me.
I would encourage my fellow Trump supporters to do the same. As the writer of Proverbs warned, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23, The New Living Translation).
My concern about next week’s impeachment trial is that once the expected acquittal comes half of the country will refuse to accept it, giving Democrats the ammunition they need to continue their relentless attacks on the former president. This will be akin to continually picking at a scab, ensuring that it never heals.
I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to be angry—even over political differences.
The reason we get angry is because we are made in the image of God who is angered over any kind of injustice. But in the Bible, there are two kinds of anger— destructive anger and productive anger.
Destructive anger tries to take vengeance into its own hands. It’s like a cancer in our souls, spreading corrosive rage until it eventually destroys us. Destructive anger knows no bounds, zealously trying to settle the score through vitriol and violence.
However, productive anger recognizes that there are real injustices but responds with a totally different posture of heart.
Productive anger forgives personal offenses and seeks justice through the proper channels, whether it be from God Himself or through God-ordained channels such as government.
And if we feel justice has not been served, we trust God to ultimately right the wrong. The apostle Paul told us, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19). While God doesn’t always settle the score immediately, He will settle it ultimately.
Republicans certainly have the right to believe that the election was stolen, but after they have exhausted their appeals it is time to move forward and try to win the next election.
Democrats who believe President Trump committed an impeachable offense need to make their best case next week and, if they fail, they should focus on supporting the new president rather than persecuting the last one.
Real injustices happen in our broken world every day. But with every offense comes a choice.
Through the empowerment of God’s grace, we can let go of someone’s offense and become better, or we can hold on to that offense and become bitter.
The choice is ours. Letting go promotes healing; holding on ensures destruction. As comedian Lily Tomlin said, “Refusing to forgive is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”
What’s true at the level of individuals is true at the level of the nation.
If we can’t find a way to forgive and heal, we’re headed for devastation. However, as theologian Lewis Smedes wrote, “When we forgive we set the prisoner free, and the prisoner we set free is us.”
It’s time for America to be set free from the destructive power of bitterness.