Does God Still Guide Nations, World Events?
In his book 1776, David McCullough tells the story of the Revolutionary War from the perspective of the soldiers themselves. Accessing both American and British archives and some personal letters written by soldiers and officers alike, the Pulitzer Prize winning author weaves together a complex and often tragic telling of how the battle was started, its various movements throughout the war, and how it ended; all from the perspective of those who were actually there. 1776 is one the best written and most compelling books I’ve read, especially in its treatment of how the U.S. became an independent nation. Concerning our nations current challenges however, and those of other countries as well, I found the unusual happenings in the Revolutionary War to be of some encouragement and guidance for us today.
The odds were remarkably against the original 13 colonies of ever becoming an independent nation, much more so than I previously realized. The British army was well trained, well fed and adequately uniformed. They were truly professional soldiers. Hundreds of cannon-equipped war ships were at the British’s disposal, many of which arrived in the New York Harbor as a daunting show of force against the Americans. The British were the leading superpower at the time. Fighting these back woods Americans was supposed to be an easy win.
Washington’s Continental Army on the other hand was a rag-tag regiment at best with few professional soldiers. They were often sick, without adequate boots or weaponry, and were mostly farmers by trade. They had very few ships. Moral was often low. Desertions were common throughout the rather long and confusing war, and many abandoned the cause and went back to their farms when their enlistment obligations had expired. Our countries mission lacked clarity, unity, and any reasonable expectation of a victory. Which may explain why so many Americans were sympathetic to the British cause.
The British, according to letters from their own officers, really thought they had this war in the bag. Their confidence was glaring and their disdain for the less-than-impressive American troops was not hidden. They often boasted of how easy it will be to defeat General Washington and his unprofessional army. As one goes through the book, even knowing the outcome, you can’t help but ask; “how in the world were they able to pull this off?” And that’s exactly the right question, because they shouldn’t have been able to.
The most compelling thing about this event in history however is the many unexplainable events that took place during this war. The reading of the book gives one a mysterious notion of Divine involvement. I say mysterious because the book doesn’t highlight the Christian Faith, religion in general or God’s involvement necessarily. McCullough simply records what the soldiers and officers themselves witnessed, and recorded with pen and ink. It’s widely documented for instance that there were dense fogs, snow storms, sudden down pours, high winds, rising river tides and other weather related miracles that were so obviously to the benefit of Washington’s cause, Washington himself referred to them as “strokes of Providence”.
There were circumstantial occurrences as well involving soldiers and spies that mere men simply could not have orchestrated with such beneficial outcome. Time after time the “unbeatable” British Army was simply failing to succeed in any lasting effort against the Continental Army, an army they should have easily been able to defeat. One supernatural event after another however rendered their plans moot. It simply appeared that God’s hand was guiding the events of this war.
When I finished reading McCullough’s book, I realized more than ever that God’s will is going to be carried out in this world, regardless of what nations and their leaders wish to be carried out on their own agenda. Free will is in tact, both wise and foolish things will be demonstrated by the worlds leaders as some latitude is given. And make no mistake, repercussions for those decisions will come to fruition, as we see played out here in our own country. As far as God’s will however, nothing can thwart what God intends to carry out ultimately, eventually.
The United States was going to be founded and remain independent of British rule, no matter what forces came against her. Perhaps for the balance of nations, super powers, defense of Israel, innovation, management of wealth, etc. Who Knows? Well, God knows. That gives me great comfort today as I look at the stifling chaos and disruptive back-and-forth bantering that abounds in our nation. If one takes a micro view, a day to day look at current events in our country, one might get discouraged real quick. And think it impossible for any good to come from our current social, political and economic environment.
I’ve learned however to take a macro view, a broader view of current events, and to ask a different question other than “will congress ever get it right?” or “will we ever be able to move forward again as one people?” I prefer to ask; “what is God doing with our country, and with our world?” “Where is he taking us?” and, “how will he solve the seemingly insurmountable issues of our day?” I like these questions because historically, the guiding hand of our Creator has brought us through some dark and tragic times in our country, and the world, and with little help on our part. I also like this line of questioning because it keeps me looking in the right direction.
The world has survived and moved beyond some horrendous events, some much worse than what we’re going through right now. Truth is, we’ll get through this, mostly though because our God cares about the direction of this nation, and all the worlds nations. More to the point, God is the one that brought this country about in the first place, he’ll certainly know how to get it through even today’s challenges.
It’s not a question of whether good or bad will come out of the mess we find ourselves in, rather what good will our Creator somehow bring out of both?