Some living through America’s Civil War (1861-1865) believed the bloodshed, pain, and suffering of those years were a judgment from God. It had followed undeniable and sinful wrongs of slavery in our country and destructive forces to divide our nation that was meant to be a unified light for God’s purpose.
Today many believe that terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, brought a judgment from God for the millions of innocent lives murdered in abortions. They believe that because that warning, that call to return to God, was not heeded, the result is this covid-19 pandemic as a greater judgment.
Thankfully God’s judgments have a purpose to restore, redeem, and forgive, both nations and individuals. A warning was initially directed to Israel who unfortunately chose to ignore it and suffered severe consequences.
2 Chronicles 7: 14 tells us God’s clear warning and plainly shows His love: “If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day for Americans to follow 2 Chronicles 7: 14. Following is Lincoln’s prayer proclamation with assured hope that is needed today as much as it was then.
“Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And inasmuch as we know that by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clememency and forgiveness.
Now therefore in compliance with the request and finally concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cries of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition and peace.” (Abraham Lincoln)
History tells us that in 1863 Americans overwhelmingly united and sincerely prayed. Immediately following those prayers the turning point of the war came bringing the end closer.
Americans today should follow God’s call to humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways. If we will, then here is what we can expect to happen. God “will hear from heaven” and will forgive our sins and will heal our land. Assured hope indeed!