With all the turmoil and uncertainty facing our nation today, people regardless of their political affiliation are asking: “What is the future of our nation?” “Where is God in all this?” and “What is the church supposed to do?”
Let me begin by assuring you that God is still in control. I’m reminded of what the great preacher R.G. Lee said when someone asked him if God knew what was happening in the world:“God is not an impotent and puzzled bell-hop running up and down the corridors of the house he designed by his omniscience and created by his omnipotence, having lost the key to some of the mystery rooms of his own house.”
We need to remember that God is sovereign and he has allowed us to come to this point for a reason. The question we should be asking is “What does God want his church to do?” Our nation’s history shows that we have been here before and God’s people turned to him in prayer and repentance. The following is based on my article in this newspaper about 10 years ago:
In the 1730s, the American Colonists were on a moral and spiritual decline. There was no central government or unity. Drunkenness, swearing, immorality and every form of godlessness was growing. In one small Massachusetts town of Northampton, young people were roaming the streets at night, hanging out in taverns, and indulging in immoral activities. All of a sudden, two well-known youths in the community died. The people were shocked. Many began to question the meaning of life and death.
Members of one small church began praying for their neighbors. The pastor, Jonathan Edwards, started a series of messages on justification by faith, and six young people were converted. Among them was a young girl who had a bad reputation. The news of her salvation spread like wildfire! In the next six months 300 of the total population of 1,100 were converted. Revival fires began to spread to other parts of the nation through the preaching of George Whitefield. As a result, hope was restored and our nation was saved from disaster.
Again, in the 1790s, the nation was in transition as people were moving out West. Morality and spirituality were on a decline. God’s people began to pray and a series of revivals broke out throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Georgia. Methodist and Presbyterian preachers joined efforts and led the famous camp-meetings. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale and grandson of Jonathan Edwards, gave a series of lectures on why the Bible is the Word of God and revival broke out among the students. Similar awakenings took place on the campus of Princeton and Dartmouth. According to some historians, as many as 1 million people came to saving faith in Jesus Christ!
Sparks of the awakening were reignited in 1857 with the prayer revivals led by Jeremiah Lanphier and by the chaplains during the Civil War. God used people like Charles Finney and Dwight L. Moody to carry the movement into the first half of the 20th century. Although the 20th century did not show massive awakenings as in the previous centuries, there have been many movements in various denominations that have touched countless lives with the gospel. President Calvin Coolidge was right when he remarked, “America was born in a revival of religion.”
It is high time that God’s people stop blaming each other and turning on fellow Americans. Instead, we need to, instead, learn from our predecessors by taking the blame and turning towards God in repentance. The promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still available to us: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This will not be a band-aid or a quick fix. We are in this for the long haul. We will have to teach the next generation the importance of walking with God and trusting him. Be prepared for the night to get darker “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).