“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord . . .”
— Psalm 33:12
Which describes you better: “the swift hand of judgment” or “the patient heart of grace”? If you’re like most of us, you relate better to the former. For some reason, we feel better about ourselves when we see something wrong in others.
Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. This sixteenth president of the United States did tremendous things for our country, and he earned the lasting respect and loyalty of American citizens. But was he a Christian? A clergyman once asked Lincoln, “Do you love Jesus?” Lincoln responded, “When I left Springfield, I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus.”
Lincoln was a humble and forgiving person, and he exemplifies our need as a nation to humble ourselves before God. During the dark days of the Civil War, he declared national days of fasting and prayer (not a unique practice in that time). In one of those proclamations, he said:
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
. . . 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.
. . . It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. (March 30, 1863)
In our day, with terrible crime rates and immorality of every kind, we would do well to heed Lincoln’s words. Today, humble yourself before God, and ask Him to grant His mercy on this nation.
“. . . with malice toward none; with charity for all . . .”