In this Christmas season, we reflect briefly on the real answer, the answer our founders relied on when confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Cynics scoff, and doubters are always there to point out paths of failure, but the faith of our fathers, rooted in “a firm reliance on divine Providence,” that a just “God in heaven presides over the destiny of nations” runs through all our founding documents and the correspondences of our founding fathers.
Is it mere coincidence that the Pilgrims just happened to land exactly where I would suspect the only English-speaking Native American on the entire continent was? That both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after our nation declared independence?
The atheist, cynic Voltaire observed that “God was always on the side of the biggest battalions.”
Yet the entire American Revolution is a testimony to the exact opposite. The whole idea of the tiny backward American colonies challenging the greatest military power in the world was ludicrous and laughable. Washington had no illusions; the math was clearly against success.
But Washington and the founders had faith, a belief that liberty was what God intended for his children, and moved forward with that deep faith that God, seeing in their efforts the cause of freedom and righteousness, would somehow come to their aid.
In the Old Testament the story of Gideon and his army parallels the American experience. Gideon was actually ordered to dramatically downsize his forces. Why? So, when the battle was won, the people could clearly see the hand of the Lord in it.
Compare this to Washington and his army. Going into Valley Forge, he had roughly 10,000 troops. By the spring, through death, starvation, disease and desertion, Washington was down to 3,000 men. The British, living in luxury only a few miles away, did not even bother to attack. To any external observer the game was pretty much over.
Yet, when Washington and his tiny band first met the British in battle after Valley Forge, it was the British who broke and ran from the field. Washington and his men had done all they could. To them, divine intervention was all they had left, and their faith that God would reward their dedication carried the day. The lesson: Those who do His will receive his blessings.
Patrick Henry in 1775 in his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech, made a profound prophecy, which came to pass in 1778: “Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battle for us.”
Benjamin Franklin observed that God helps those who help themselves, and that is exactly what the rebellious Americans did. After doing all they could, God provided the French, and the United States of America soon took her rightful place in the pantheon of nations.
Francis Scott Key, after watching the Americans successfully defend themselves at Baltimore in the War of 1812, penned the words of our national anthem. One stanza reads “… and thus be it ever when free men shall stand, between their loved homes and the wars desolation. Blessed with victory and peace, may this heaven rescued land, praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation … and this be our motto, in God is our trust.”
Have you ever wondered why the liberals work so diligently to remove “under God” from our pledge, and “In God We Trust” from our money? A sincere or misguided interpretation of the First Amendment, perhaps? No. In fact, they despise the Constitution and the founders. The real reason is to undermine this great motivating power: faith.
So, do we now reject the whole American experience in limited government, of liberty for all, as a failure?
Washington, in his farewell address, gave the answer: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
In this time of economic retreat we need to be very careful we do not trade our liberties for a mess of pottage. At Christmas time especially we need to renew the real power that made the United States of America the freest, richest and most envied nation in world history: faith in a living God. Yes indeed, for real Americans, like our founding fathers before us, a faith in our Creator is the wellspring of our liberties and prosperity.
In God we trust.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks and owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing.