Monday, July 11, 2011

HOPE FOR TODAY: Redefining the American Spirit

President Abraham Lincoln with congressional approval signed a proclamation calling for a national observance of “public humiliation, prayer and fasting” held in September 1861. Months earlier the Union troops came under fire at Fort Sumpter. History shows it was the beginning of the civil war. While pondering the fate of his nation, Lincoln shared these words with his fellow countrymen. He said to offer “fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace.” The President knew he needed power and wisdom beyond Himself. He knew only the God of heaven and earth could save his divided country.

Lincoln’s American Spirit was much different than our modern version. In the face of natural disasters, political turmoil or economic uncertainty, today’s leaders call on the American people primarily to depend on themselves. Today’s version of the American Spirit is human-centered. It calls for a tough, independent, self-determined mindset that comes with an accomplish-anything attitude.

Although it appears admirable and sounds great on the surface, is that really our nation’s best and brightest way to respond to crises? The self-reliant spirit that does not need God actually enflames the anger of God. However, the humble and God-fearing receive His ear and all of heaven’s resources. The Scriptures say, “For God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:6). Crises reveal our limits as mortal human beings. We cannot stop a tornado. We cannot purge injustice from our world. We cannot control the behavior of every person. Such things highlight our powerlessness. It shouts our need for a Savior outside of ourselves.

There is only one being who is all powerful, all knowing and eternal in existence who can intervene in the course of human affairs – Almighty God. Centuries ago, He intervened by sending His Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth. Through Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection God altered the direction of world history.

May the American Spirit come to be synonymous with humility before our Creator. When our nation faces future crises may a holy and humble remnant bow before the Most High and with unwavering faith watch Him work for good in our nation. May God Himself be our nation’s hope for today and future generations.