Are you aware that the birth of the United States was a miracle? I am not sure how you feel about U.S. history but I love it! In fact it was one of my favorite classes in high school. Since that time, I have fed my passion by reading many historical biographies and autobiographies on leaders such as Jonathan Edwards, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Billy Graham just to name a few.
One of my favorite historical and biographical authors is Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough. Since Independence Day was coming up, I recently consumed his masterpiece 1776. McCullough’s research and storytelling vividly revealed to me the miracle that is America. There was no logical reason why the U.S. should have won the Revolutionary War. Our army was comprised of a bunch of rag-tag farmers who were drastically under-resourced and under-paid while we fought the empire of the day, Great Britain, who did not lack anything by way of training or financial resources. On many occasions, General George Washington privately despaired when facing the unenviable and overwhelming task of leading undisciplined, threadbare and shoeless men into battle against the greatest military power of the 18th century. By all accounts, our victory and subsequent independence appeared to be an insurmountable pipe dream.
What was the difference maker? I propose the faith of our Founding Fathers and leaders played a huge role in our victory. Every time I read U.S. history, I am amazed by their trust in God Almighty, which shines through in their correspondence and conversations. For example, in a letter to John Adams, Washington confessed “We have nothing, my dear sir, to depend upon, but the protection of a kind Providence and the unanimity among ourselves” (1776, pg. 120). Later on, on July 2, 1776 Washington wrote “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army” (Ibid, pg. 112). A few months later, during a session of Congress, Benjamin Rush sat next to John Adams and quietly asked him if he thought America could win the war. John Adams replied “Yes, if we fear God and repent our sins” (John Adams, pg.160). After the U.S. eventually gained her freedom, Adams would admit that he endured the tumult and stress of our nation’s precarious circumstances “through prayer” (Ibid, pg. 409).
Those quotations represent the thinking & faith of the two men who would become the first two Presidents of the United States! They were godly men who knew that their strength came from an external and divine source. They clearly understood that nations rise and fall at the will of God.
For me, their example begs the question: have we forgotten that truth? Approximately 234 years ago the outcome of their struggle for freedom was far from certain. Yet it was their faith in God that pushed them forward and carried them through. This week, as we gather with family and friends, cook some BBQ, and watch parades, will we pause to remember the essence of this great nation’s creation, identity and history? For it is all too easy (myself included) to take for granted the miracle of our existence and to fail to genuinely and reverently thank God. So I encourage you to invite him to your 4th of July celebration by giving a prayer of thanksgiving. After all, He’s the one who made this holiday possible!