Is God Hardening Donald Trump's Heart?

I remember a short, fractured conversation I once had that altered my view of the world.

In broken English, a woman from Iraq told me the story of why she'd ended up living in inner-city London. She described how her house had been destroyed by a bomb and how in the blast her only son had been killed. It was then that she sought refuge in the UK.

Looking around at the grey afternoon and the run-down blocks of a council estate, at first I wondered why anyone would want to live there. But as she spoke, and I saw the terror and fear in her eyes from that event years before, I realised what a sanctuary the dull surrounding streets were.

A protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban at Columbia University in New York City.Reuters

Not that I'd bother telling Trump that story. He doesn't seem much intent on listening.

I've been thinking of that confusing verse in Exodus when God tells Moses that he will harden Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 7:3) – and it's an action God repeats throughout the story. Wasn't Pharaoh's heart hard enough already? A dictator who saw himself as God believing no one was above him, who oppressed an entire race out of fear and for his own gain. A man who even when he saw his own people suffer, refused to yield. Would anything stop him?

I certainly wouldn't claim to be a biblical scholar on the matter or anywhere near it, but as I've considered Pharaoh, and in turn Trump (you don't have to look far to see the similarities), I wonder if God wanted to highlight the deep, pervasive injustices which existed in Egypt, and bring them firmly into the stark light. Pharaoh was a hard man already and would probably have got worse. Is it that God accelerates the process to speed up the escape of the Israelites – and show Pharaoh for everything he is?

So how can God let Trump be Trump? Trump's recent decisions for a temporary ban on refugees entering American and a refusal to grant visas to those travelling from certain countries reveal the beginnings of a draconian regime. Would God harden his heart further?

I pray with all my heart, not. But what we're seeing now in America is a coming into the light of the deep divisions, racism, xenophobia and prejudice that have been brewing for years. Trump's extremist views and opinions; his signing off of shocking legislation, his loud, brash voice speak out these disturbing beliefs for all the world to hear.

Many have been shocked by the white evangelical vote which essentially secured Trump's presidency. I have written on this site about how it made me question my own alignment with Christianity. A pastor friend of mine describes how he has been walked out of churches in America when he asked for the national flag to be lowered to sit beneath the cross. For some US Christians, sadly, nation has become more important than Christ. It is these kinds of 'idols' which are also being exposed – and it is right for the global Church to question the priorities of the Christians who hold these views at a time like this. But now these US Christians also have an unbelievable chance to redeem and heal the wounds in their Church and country.

As the full extent of the nationalism and xenophobia which exists in the US – and indeed our own country – is being exposed, we are, of course, appalled.

That's a good thing. People speaking out about treatment of the least in society, standing up against hatred, declaring they are ready to welcome the stranger – these are biblical calls.

When the enemy hurls down its power as Trump has, the people have no choice but to rise up against it. It's the kick in the backside our apathy needs. We can't ignore it any longer, we have no choice but to take to the streets, raise our voices, write to our politicians, befriend our neighbour, defend the refugee; get involved – things we felt we should have been doing for years, but now we're doing them. We've been forced to act.

Trump's decisions will have far-reaching consequences and many will suffer under his regime. Would I rather he weren't in that position? Of course! Do I want God to soften his heart? Absolutely. But an opportunity is also being created for us in the midst of this extremism to become the justice movement that God is always calling us to.

As I walked with thousands of others on the women's march, so many handmade signs felt like prophetic words; Love wins, Love not hate makes America great, Love is power, Build bridges not walls, Love trumps hate, Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can.

Martin Luther King's insistence that it is only love that will conquer over hate is a statement we must cling on to and uphold . We're beginning to realise the extent of our divisions, the chasm which exists between us.

Perhaps God is bringing all this darkness into the light to remind us that we were born for such a time as this.

Katherine Maxwell-Rose is a writer, speaker and activist campaigning on issues of social justice and transformation.