How to deal with Political Grief

Article by: Pastor Arnold Orono - Lead Pastor of Hekima Centre.

As I write this article, the Kenyan electoral season is drifting towards a close. We are a few hours out from the swearing-in of the President-elect, and possibly a few days away from a new cabinet and a new season. Will the national political discourse end with these events? I don’t think so. Kenyans have a healthy appetite for political fodder. It’s the narrative or focus that will shift.

Kenyans have a healthy appetite for political fodder.

There has been a winner and runners-up in this election (I prefer the word runners-up to loser). Of course, the winners are celebrating that their man took the coveted prize (albeit by around two hundred thousand votes), while the runners-up are in mourning. It was a tightly contested race, and the outcome was not very easy to predict.

One of the things the Bible makes very clear is that we rejoice with them that rejoice, and mourn with them that mourn (Rom 12:15). I think its important for the church to rally around both sides, both to celebrate and to comfort. Political grief is part of the electoral process, and we need to come to terms with it.

It is interesting that unless you stood for an elective position, most of the grieving is in regards to the Presidential election. I have not heard much grief in regard to governors or senators who lost. This is a pointer to our views concerning the different offices. Here are some thoughts on navigating the political grieving process.

  1. Understand the grieving process. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the 5 stages of grief. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Whenever we lose something close to us, we will probably go through those stages of grief. We need to recognize where we are on this journey and work through it. We need to give grief its time. If we miss a stage, we might have to repeat the exam.
  2. Realize that the Kingdom of God is greater than any country. Daniel interpreted a vision in which God’s kingdom was going to consume every other kingdom (Dan 2). This is of even greater validity today. We thank God for Kenya’s greatness, but the Kingdom of God is even greater. If we are truly Kingdom citizens, then our eyes will be on the greater purposes of God than on an electoral prize. We will leverage our position to ensure the Kingdom advances, whether our candidate won or lost.
  3. The fact that your candidate did not make it – is not a statement about who you are. Some in the Church have made it look like those who did not vote for the winning candidate were not spiritual. I don’t subscribe to this view. The nature of God is love. He loves the candidates in the same way that He loves us as individuals. He may not subscribe to their values, but He loves them all the same. If you prayed and voted according to your conscience, then you have done your duty. We leave the rest in the hands of God.
  4. Just as there is a place for the opposition in parliament, is there a place for ‘spiritual opposition’? One of the dangers of having a candidate who is pleasing to everyone is that we (the church) will not call them out when they do wrong. I believe that God put it in some people to ‘oppose’ the voting patterns so that they can call things out when they are going wrong. The purpose of this calling out is not out of a heart of vengeance, but out of humility and love. If we play our role, then we can make things better for everyone.

As I wind up, I want to comment on how impressed I was with the Church leaders as they shuttled from candidate to candidate to get commitments of peace. Some of them received a lot of flack because of the perception that they had taken sides. It is important than when history tells the story of the 2022 elections, the role of the Church should be impossible to ignore.

So ….. here we stand, at the entrance of a new dispensation. Identify your role in this season, and stand up to be counted!

About the Author: Arnold Orono is the Lead Pastor of Hekima Centre. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical & Communications engineering, and a Masters in Leadership.


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