Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Lesson from Lincoln

On October 4, 2008, former President Bush signed a $700 billion bailout bill and last month, on February 17, President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package. The combined pieces of legislation represent $1.487 trillion, the most expensive government actions in the history of our nation and as one commentator said, “Maybe even the history of the world.”

The two bills were responding to a series of crises – the mortgage crisis, the banking crisis, the market crisis and the unemployment crisis. Depending on what party you are from you may see the solution differently. One party sees the answer in government spending more to simulate the economy, while the other feels it is better to cut taxes and allow the citizens to spend more. In the end, both look to money as the savior of our economy.

Former President Abraham Lincoln has been getting much attention recently. We can learn a lesson through observing how Lincoln and Congress responded to their national crisis. During the civil war, when our nation was literally divided and on the brink of collapse, U.S. Senator James Harlan of Iowa introduced a resolution for a time of national prayer. The resolution stated,

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

President Lincoln and both chambers of Congress agreed with Senator Harlan. The resolution was approved and signed on March 30, 1863, with an urgent call to a national day of prayer scheduled just 30 days later on April 30.

There are many other times in American history when our nation was facing difficult times. Our national leaders and its citizens formally humbled themselves and called upon God for His help – God responded!

May we realize that the future hope of our nation will not come from the wealth of our own wisdom or prosperity. It comes from God. May we not forget Him in this hour of need. In this fragile world, may He be our hope for today.

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