Mar 16, 2009

Thank God

In the pre-dawn eerie-quiet of April 12, 1861, the Union Soldiers watched... and waited. What would the Confederate Army do? Earlier in the morning at 3:20 AM Brigadier General Pierre Beauregard had sent word to the union army stationed at Fort Sumter. They had one hour to evacuate. At 4:29 AM everyone waited. Would the Confederate Army really use force to secede from the United States of America? Would they ignore the plea from President Lincoln to work together for a solution? Dear Father in Heaven, had it come to this? At 4:30 AM, the answer came. A single mortar shell exploded over the fort. The war had begun. For almost 100 years the union had managed to stay together. But now everything was falling apart. The great United States of America was fighting... itself.


President Lincoln may not have known the exact time when the news reached him. His pocket watch was in the possession of one Jonathan Dillon. Mr. Dillon was a watchmaker hired to repair the President's timepiece. The watchmaker was so overwhelmed by the news of the Battle of Ft. Sumter that he inscribed a message on the inside of Lincoln's watch. Forty years later, the watchmaker told the New York Times about the inscription but no one had actually opened the watch to find out. That is until this week.


On Wednesday, the National Museum of History allowed the watch to be inspected. And sure enough, within the inner-plate of the watch was the message. "Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels. "Thank God we have a government, April 13, 1861". Apparently the President of the United States never even knew about the engraving.


There is much talk these days about how terrible things are. I have heard that this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. I have talked to many people who are fearful whether they will have a job next week. I have heard people say that the government is doing too much and others saying they are not doing enough. But amidst all of the talk about how this is one of the worst crises this nation has ever faced, I think back to the Civil War. 618,000 people died. In 1860, the total population was around 31 million. That means that roughly one out of every 50 people lost their lives. I can't even imagine how my great-great ancestors survived.


But our nation did survive the Civil War, the Great Depression, multiple other wars and multiple other crises. And each time we have emerged a stronger nation.


Mr. Dillon was thankful that there was a government. In a way, I am too. Government is a gift from God and without it there surely would be anarchy. I am also grateful for the freedom and opportunity this nation provides. But more than that, I am thankful that we have a God! For no matter what crises may overwhelm this or any nation, we still have a God that loves us and cares for us. And when the rebel of sin battles against us, I know that through Jesus our great and powerful God has already won the war.


In this time of overwhelming anxiety, may our great God give you peace.




Pastor David Hook

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