America at 244: Overcoming Despair Through Faith and Action
Today our nation celebrates its Independence, and our Director of Strategic Alliances, Neil Hubacker, reflects on its religious heritage.
For many, this 244th marking of America’s birth may not feel like a celebration. The chaos, disease, division, injustice, and lawlessness in our nation seem to be reaching a fever pitch. It’s difficult to know who to trust. Angry crowds destroy property and seem intent on destroying our heritage by tearing down the images of those who, however imperfect, have helped build our country. Even the Supreme Court seems to have been drawn into the political fray. Who could have foreseen this?
I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul:
“…in the last days…people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3.1-5 ESV).
Where is God in the midst of all this earthly chaos? And what does He require of us, God’s people, at this hour in our nation’s history? It’s important to remember man’s self-destruction is nothing new. One Biblical prophet who himself was no stranger to a cultural crisis in his day gives us insight.
Living in a morally and spiritually bankrupt nation, Habakkuk knew his beloved homeland was clearly on the path to being severely disciplined by God. His words ring true today:
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you look idly at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; and justice goes forth perverted” (Habakkuk 1.2-4 ESV).
And what was God’s response? He reassured Habbakuk that He had not abandoned them and told the prophet how God’s people should take action during this time of great national distress. This was not a time to despair or to give up, but a time to press into God harder than ever before. Only through faith and surrender would man find a way to overcome his own brokenness. Listening to God, Habbakuk is able to rise above his own feeling of helplessness to find strength in unwavering faith.
Two hundred years ago in 1820, on the 200th anniversary of the pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire’s own Daniel Webster reflected on the religious heritage of the United States:
“If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”
I believe that even chaos can serve God’s purpose. Let us cherish and celebrate the faith foundation our country stands on and vow to protect it. It is time for the church to lead the way and rise to the challenges of evil in the world as never before. Today, in the year of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing, let us renew our commitment to the power of the gospel being felt throughout our land and around the world. Armed with an unshakeable faith and a desire for God to be glorified regardless of personal cost, let us partner with God for His glory and for our national good. America, and more importantly Christ and His kingdom, are worthy of no less.