Happy Birthday, America!
This Saturday, we will celebrate the 244th anniversary of the founding of our country. Unfortunately, this holiday will be unlike others we have had since the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776. As a nation, we are struggling with the coronavirus and yesterday, more than 50,000 new cases were confirmed in one day – the greatest one day total to date.
We have civil unrest in the streets, including the destruction of property and the removal of statues that have divided the nation. Of course, we also have groups, both domestic and foreign, who have advocated for the changing of names on buildings that are associated with slavery or other unpopular signs of the times. In fact, Princeton has accelerated the removal of President Wilson’s name from the university’s School of Public and International Affairs as well as Wilson College. The school’s position is that Wilson was racist and, therefore, sets a bad example for students at Princeton. Apparently, there was a similar failed effort back in 2015, but nothing was changed at that time. Now, however, with the death of George Floyd, things have moved faster than originally planned.
While I am certainly sympathetic to the questions surrounding the memorials and statues dedicated to famous Americans, I don’t believe that we should rush to judgment and that is one of the beautiful things about this country – the right to strongly disagree and debate the appropriateness of our laws, the enforcement of our laws and how we handle disagreements.
But for now, let’s focus on the things that unite us rather than those that divide us. We have enough to be concerned about with social distancing, the closure of entertainment venues and restaurants and the cancellation of fireworks shows in addition to all the other issues that we are dealing with. On top of all that, the presidential election is looming in the near future and we have no idea of whether Trump will retain the presidency or if Joe Biden will be successful in his bid to unseat the incumbent.
One good news item announced today is the fact that last month we created more jobs that have been created in decades. People are returning to work in record numbers and this past quarter, the stock market had its best three months since 1987 – an increase of 18%. As a nation, we can take our lumps, but we are not to be defeated. Sometimes, that is difficult to believe but we are not going to let our strife destroy us.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he discusses a similar issue. Paul speaks the to believers in Corinth and gives them insight as to what it means to be a believer. The church is relatively young and has had its share of problems since its inception. After straightening out the problems, Paul goes on to talk about the hardships the believers face and to put their trust in God. That’s great advice for our country today as well. Even our forefathers saw the wisdom of invoking the name of God in our founding documents.
As our verse for tonight, Paul tells us, in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” In other words, we are down, but not out. Things look dark, but we will prevail.
My encouragement this evening is that God never promised us that it would be easy to follow Him. Just as our forefathers knew that freedom came at a price and that the birth pains of the U.S. would be difficult to survive. We are still experiencing those difficulties. My prayer is that we will find ways to mend our differences and that as a country, we will prevail. It is furthermore my hope that the United States will once again be a shining light in the world, much as God wants us to be ambassadors for His kingdom. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… and Happy Birthday, America!