After confidently predicting a 80 to 100 Conservative Party majority in last week's election the shock of reality is a slap in the face. This election has been, as the blog Archbishop Cramner put it: “an unmitigated, self inflicting disaster.” A hung parliament, an unsecure Prime Minister, Islamic terrorism and Brexit is not a combination of events that can give any confidence. The hubris and arrogance of calling an early election is blisteringly clear, my own hubris in thinking that this election was in the bag is also painful to reflect on.
There are slivers in the dark clouds to be thankful for. With Conservative gains in Scotland and Wales and a likely coalition with the DUP, we are a kingdom united once more. Scottish independence was dealt a heavy blow, for which we can all rejoice. Many young people registered to vote for the first time, of course, they voted Labour but hey, today's Labour voter is a Tory just waiting to happen. And to the great annoyance of a lot of my friends, my MP Philip Davies (Conservative) held his seat, increasing his votes, in-spite (or because of) a concerted campaign against him by “feminist zealots”.
But these are only the smallest flakes of silver in some very heavy and dark clouds. Serious questions have to be asked: what went wrong? What happens next? Both tricky to get good answers to. But this kind of reflection is needed, for the right lessons need to be learnt. The Bible verse which is solidly in my mind is this:
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4v6).
This is not the path that May has yet taken, she should. It is not the path the Conservatives have yet taken, it needs to be. And this is the path we must all walk on. The lacking of the political class is rarely so easy to see and it should make us realise the inherent feebleness of all of man's endeavours. Who could have foreseen this a month ago? Who knows what should be done now? How will a weakened government negotiate a good Brexit? The weakness of our prime Minister is the weakness of all of humanity, caught up in our mistakes, flaws and failing. There is no salvation to be found in politics. Even St Jezza, for all his success, still lost and offers nothing that wasn't tried and failed in the 1970s.
The temptation to fret and worry is high but there are comforting truths to fall back on – God is as great today as last week, his mercies are new every morning and they never come to an end. God raises kings and deposes them and works all things out according to his sovereign will. Jesus Christ is still king, his church met today, on Sunday, and we will continue to meet to worship and serve him. No good promise of God's has failed. The gospel is still true. King Jesus is risen!
Our faith is made better by difficult times for in the turmoil we can still know peace. Whatever dark places the tides of popularism, secularism and socialism take us to, we can be still and know that God is God. As the psalms testify to: he is our refuge and our strength, our ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46).
These reflections prompt prayer. There is nothing like seeing the gaping weakness of humanity to force us to our knees to our God. “Lord, have mercy on us, glorify your name through this, build your church, enable your people to live quiet and godly lives. Heavenly Father, give wisdom to our leaders, may they seek you, guide and help this country.” Today my minister prayed that through these uncertain times the church would grow - in the knowledge of God and in the number of conversions. Amen to that!
Archbishop Cramner asked in his article: who will call this nation to prayer? I think God's Spirit does, calling on all God's people to turn to him and seek his face. Regardless of political creed and perceived level of victory today, the reality is we have a weak government and a strong need for action. As Christians, we need to pray about this, urgently and regularly.
After reflection and prayer, there is action. This will vary on a personal basis and political convictions. My action has been to sign up to become a fully paid up Conservative Party member. I'm not 100% sure why it was important to do this except from a strong conviction that it was the right thing to do. For despite the unmitigated disaster of this election I believe we will always need the basic conservative principles of individual responsibility, limited government, free markets and helping people to help themselves. It's time I put my money where my convictions are.
But my greater, greatest conviction is that this country needs Jesus, it needs a flourishing church, shining like a bright light, calling all people to repentance and faith, faithfully proclaiming the good news of sins forgiven and Christ risen. As Psalm 146 says - "do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save." Only God can save, put your trust in him.