Summary: Americans lived in a nation blessed of God. We dare not take that blessing for granted. We must live, work, and pray so that the next generation can say the same thing.
A God Blessed America
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: It just doesn’t seem like the Fourth of July without all the fireworks and festivities. I know. I will never forget the Fourth of July we spent where nobody else celebrated. No parades. No parties. No fireworks. It just didn’t seem right.
Of course, there was a good reason. Rose and I were in Canada on that particular Fourth of July. We had just started a month long camping adventure up the Alaska Highway for our 25th wedding anniversary. We had crossed from Montana into Alberta. Late in the afternoon on July 1, we pulled into a municipal campground in High River, just south of Calgary. I was surprised to see the remnants of a parade from earlier in the day and posters for a big fireworks display that night. Did Canada operate on a different calendar? I didn’t have a clue. I soon learned that July 1 is Canada Day, their version of our Independence Day. That’s when they celebrate their birthday, not ours. At dusk we made our way to another park and watched the fireworks.
We spent the next two days sightseeing in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta and home of the world’s biggest mall. On the Fourth of July, we set up camp in a rainstorm at Dawson Creek British Columbia, the starting point of the 1500 mile long Alcan Highway. I was thoroughly disappointed. July 4 came and went. It was just like any other day for all those Canadians. Go figure! Eh!
Even for Americans, the Fourth of July can be just another day off. We easily forget the reason for the celebration. The real purpose fades into the background behind the parades and picnics. Younger kids could think that the Fourth is really fireworks day. Most adults know better.
Let me remind you—tomorrow is America’s birthday. On July 4, 1776, fifty-six American leaders signed the Declaration of Independence separating the thirteen British colonies from England. That was 229 years ago. That makes ours the world’s oldest surviving democracy.
But in the grand scheme of world history, America is a mere child among nations. Compared to Egypt, China, Japan, Rome, and Greece, America is a “Johnny come lately.” Consider how brief our history really is. Our country was born just over four generations ago. When Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration and the third president of the country died, Abraham Lincoln was a young man of 17. When Lincoln was assassinated thirty-nine years later, Woodrow Wilson was a boy of 8. When Wilson died in 1924, Ronald Reagan was 12. President Reagan passed away a year ago. The lives of these four men span our nation’s entire history.
America is young. Yet we stand tall among these nations of the world. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States is undisputedly the most powerful nation on earth. Many don’t like it, but it’s a reality. We are also the most prosperous. The poorest among us fare far better than the average citizens of many nations. That abundance gives rise to a lot of jealousy. But we are also the freest nation on earth. If the truth be told, I am convinced there is a connection between our prosperity and our freedom. All of the complicated economic theories aside, the greatest cause of poverty is tyranny and corruption. Where freedom flourishes, people eventually prosper. Where tyrants rule, the tyrants prosper while the people perish.
I think there is another fact, one even more important. We are not just the most powerful, the most prosperous, and the freest nation on earth. We are the most blessed. To say that is to acknowledge that America’s greatness is secondary. We have much for which we cannot take credit. We are blessed. Arrogance and ingratitude ill becomes us. We are indebted to those who have gone before us. But most of all we should be thankful to a God who has showered blessing upon blessing on us. We are blessed.
That’s what that hymn we sang earlier declared. Did you catch the words to the chorus of “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies?” “America, America! God shed his grace on thee.” That’s my point. We are a nation blessed. We have much for which to give thanks.
God has blessed America in the past. Our founders and early leaders believed that. They believed that the very existence of the new nation came at the hand of God. In recent years, many have attempted to rewrite history. Some have claimed that faith had nothing to do with the beginnings of our nation. It is said that Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others had little sympathies for established religion. That is why they erected a wall of separation between church and state, so the argument goes. Our founders didn’t want the government telling churches what to do. They contended for freedom of religion but not freedom from religion.