The holiday season is upon us bringing us near the end of 2020. This has been a year of various hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic, riots and destruction in many cities around the country, plus political turmoil and partisan rivalry. As the people of God, we have been praying for righteousness and peace; we have been petitioning God to show His mercy; we have been opposing the works of darkness. This year of 2020 has recruited the army of the Lord, and we have deployed into active duty.
I have been encouraged by the response of the Church to these days of hardships. We are engaged in prayer. We are attentive to the Word of the Lord for our nation and its citizens. We are believing God that His Kingdom continues to advance and that His enemies are defeated.
There have been other hard seasons and other tumultuous times in our history. This is not the first time that our nation has experienced division and factions among the citizens. Remember the civil war? During those days, the future of our land stood in the balance as the North fought against the South and brother took up arms against brother. Lest we think that there has never been as hard of times as these days, we need to recall our past. In doing so, we can frame our hardships in the context of victories God has given to our forefathers.
On Thanksgiving in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln released a proclamation in the midst of the Civil War. His words are worthy for us to re-release in the midst of our internal civil strife and division. I encourage you and your family to give a fresh breath to this timeless prayer and proclamation as you celebrate this Thanksgiving.
By the President of the United States A Proclamation:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and even soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.
I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth. Abraham Lincoln By the President: William H. Seward. Secretary of State
By the time you read this article, voting in this all-important election will be over. In just a few days, once all ballots are counted and election results are tabulated, we should know which party has the majority of seats in the House and in the Senate, who sits in the White House, and who fills the offices in our local, state, and federal government. The TV ads will be silenced; the news outlets will seek other news from which to fill the headlines; and the flurry of politicians’ promises will be dimming in our memories. Will new immigration laws be enacted; will Medicare and Social Security retain the necessary integrity; will special interest groups continue to get their subsidies; will taxes be raised or lowered? These and many other questions will remain questions that only time and the wisdom of those governing can determine.
What then are those of us who are the governed to do now that election time has come and gone? Do we stand quietly by the wayside until the next election year rolls around? Is our future ordered only by the lawmakers of our land? Does all power to order the course of the nation reside within the federal or state jurisdiction?
The Bible tells us that God rules over the nations. This principle is somewhat offensive to humanity because men would often prefer to believe in their sovereignty rather than God’s. But, it is God, not men, who sets up one ruler and dethrones another by His sovereign plan for history. The Bible also tells us that those who rule in the earth should serve as His ministers to carry out His edicts upon the earth. At times, the elected do not faithfully serve God’s eternal purposes nor do they walk in righteousness towards the citizenry. Believers are then challenged to remain in faith that His kingdom is advancing and to engage in culture for the His kingdom’s sake.
God will bless and prosper a nation that has honored His precepts and kept His commandments by giving them good and honest leadership. Conversely, if God chastens a nation for their stubbornness and non-conformity to His ways, some of the leaders that He allows to be appointed will guide the people further from truth so that the error of their deeds can become apparent to them. God moves throughout nations and history to turn the hearts of mankind to Himself and to the wisdom of His Word. His blessings and His judgments serve to encourage and discourage, respectively, men to obey and to worship God.
If we think upon this principle and embrace it as truth, then an obligation rests upon the citizens of our nation between now and the next election. That obligation is to draw more closely into obedience to God’s plan for humanity. We must govern ourselves with the scriptures: loving our neighbors, not defrauding or stealing from one another, protecting rather than taking the life of another, offering voluntary charity to those in need, and respecting the property and worth of others. If we will be a nation ruled by God and His Word, God will give us leaders who reflect our values.
Our leaders can only guide us where we are willing to go. They can only sell us what we are willing to buy. A heart filled with charity will not embrace graft. A mind filled with honesty will filter out the lie. A life lived in integrity will not compromise for convenience. Citizens who love God and love their fellowman, citizens who pray for the peace and blessing of their country, and citizens who govern their own lives righteously will draw down from heaven God’s favor that will be reflected at the polls when election time rolls around again.
God Bless America!