The Declaration of Independence, the document drafted and circulated in the colonies, sparked a revolution. In our turbulent time we should remember that 1776 saw the people divided, those rebelling against the Crown of England in conflict with their neighbors who remained Loyalists. This document was radical. It re-defined the way people thought about government, rejecting the authority of the king and insisting that government’s legitimacy comes “from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration opens and closes with references to God and Providence. Thomas Jefferson and those who assisted him in drafting it, understood that the world belonged to God and was ultimately shaped by His will. (By the way, they were not devout evangelical Christians in spite of the myths you have been told!) Knowing that the revolution would be costly and unlikely to succeed without the help of God, the authors looked upwards as they wrote of their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
Two centuries later America is a world power, a wealthy nation, and a broken society. We are in desperate need of the protection of Divine Providence! We may have assumed, not all that long ago, that our treasured freedoms and democracy were beyond collapse, that America would always be envied among the nation. How wrong that assumption was. Life and liberty are at risk from those who would rewrite our social contract. Our government is big, corrupt, and tramples our individual freedoms with ever more invasions of our lives. Our prosperity has become a curse, deceiving us to think we do not need God.
America has lost her way spiritually. Whatever devotion to Christian ideals might have existed is evaporating. Moral rot eats at the heart of the nation! Our justice system imprisons millions. Corporations buy politicians who worship party over national good. Media outlets are largely outlets of propaganda. Our churches are weak, their message a whimper of niceness. Because we do not fear the Lord we are incapable of naming sin or calling people to the Gospel of Christ and spiritual renewal. Individually, we have turned to Self, relegating God to the edge of our consciousness.
But, I am not without hope. God has always preserved for Himself a ‘remnant.’ In times of spiritual decline, when God allowed judgment to fall on His people, there were always the faithful. They were not numerous, often hidden from public view, but they relied on the Lord, a faithful remnant. Paul says “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” (Romans 11:5, NIV) No, I do not mean to imply that America is guaranteed revival and restoration because of the prayers of the few. She may be, or she may find herself, like a thousand societies before her, on history’s trash pile. But, God’s Church will survive to bear His Name before the world.
I do love my country. I pray for her to truly become what she has aspired to be – a place where there is liberty and justice for all. I pray earnestly for true repentance to come from humility before Him, that our minds and hearts would take this counsel of the Lord to humbly consider our ways, to turn from our sins, to seek Him.
And this I know, that it is the nation who trusts in the Lord that finds the blessings of God. On the 4th of July, would you find a time to pray? Pray with me that the Spirit of God will preserve a remnant of the righteous, that they will faithfully bear witness to His Gospel and goodness.
- Pray for individual Christians to live the kind of godly lives (Oh, Lord, start with my heart!) that causes others to desire to know Jesus Christ.
- Pray for Churches to become powerful catalysts of genuine spiritual transformation, places where God’s truth is loved and ALL people find grace and acceptance.
- Pray for those who govern, that they will recognize – like the writers of the Declaration – the need for reliance on the protection of Divine Providence and humble themselves to seek Him.
A word from the Word – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:12-19, NIV)
(Ray Charles does it right!)
O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life
America, America may God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And ev’ry gain divine
O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
America, America God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness
America, America God mend thine ev’ry flaw
Confirm thy soul in self control
Thy liberty in law
Katharine Lee Bates © Words: Public Domain