Tomorrow we will celebrate the 4th of July, our national Independence Day. I have to ask myself how we are doing at this “one nation, under God” thing. A quick look at the news reveals how divided we are, how angry we are, what opposite visions we have for the future. The presidential election campaign is in full swing and we see negative ads, analysis of negative ads, polls about negative ads, and negative ads in response to negative ads…I don’t know what it all means, but it sure is negative!
So, how should we celebrate the birth of our country when we are bombarded with fear, division, and disunity? I have found some comfort and inspiration in the words of Abraham Lincoln. The dissension today pales in comparison to the bitter divisions of the Civil War, where brother literally took up arms against brother. Clearly Lincoln was weighed down by this struggle, but he leaned into faith in a loving God who still governs the affairs of humankind.
If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced. If I had been allowed my way, this war would have ended before this. But we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understanding we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.
I find myself wondering how to handle the angry rhetoric and loud accusations in this country. What can any of us do about it? Political differences threaten to rip us apart, but Lincoln again sheds some light for us:
Nevertheless, amid the greatest difficulties of my Administration, when I could not see any other resort, I would place my whole reliance on God, knowing that all would go well, and that He would decide for the right.
I’m going to try and approach the holiday with less outrage at those things I disagree with and more faith in the God who holds us in the palm of his hand. The admonition of Jesus that we love our neighbors as ourselves seems appropriate for this day. And a closing word from our friend Lincoln:
To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
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