“Lord, give us wisdom.”
The last two weeks have been increasingly painful and life-altering for almost every American and for countless others in so many nations around the world. We’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and people are fearful about what happens next.
For so many, this is developing into a personal catastrophe as illness touches their family, jobs are lost, businesses are shuttered, and hope begins to fade.
The crisis has been exhausting for all of us. I’ve been working day and night trying to address the urgent needs of the 760,000 people of our district, in between endless conference calls and strategy discussions with members of Congress, public health experts and leaders in all sectors of the economy. There are many thoughtful ideas, but frankly all of them are based on incomplete knowledge.
The longer we live, the more we realize how little we really know, and how completely reliant we are upon the grace, mercy, omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence of our Creator.
I keep thinking about that famous moment of despair and desperation at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, on June 28, 1787, when Benjamin Franklin rose to call the assembly to humble, daily prayer. (See his speech here.)
After more than of a month of divisive, intractable debate about how exactly to form our American system of government, nerves were frayed and tempers flared, when the senior statesman rose to make his appeal. He said all of that was “a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding,” and that they obviously needed a much Higher Power.
He reminded the delegates: “In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection, and our prayers were heard, and they were graciously answered.” But they had since grown lax in their devotions. “And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?,” he said. “Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance?”
He continued: “I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
Of course, Franklin’s reference was to the words of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
So here we are today, 233 years later, facing a very real threat to the republic that those leaders, by God’s grace and intervention, created. As Franklin said, we had better be “imploring the assistance of Heaven,” individually and as a people.
Two things are inescapably true this morning: 1) the scientists, health care providers and infectious disease specialists are virtually unanimous in their conclusion that this virus is a very serious threat that must be contained as soon as possible; and 2) the economists–and all of us guided by reason and common sense–understand that we must do all within our power to get this economy opened up again **as soon as possible** so our people can get back to work and back to some semblance of normalcy.
The American economy was booming right before this virus struck (see, e.g., the latest jobs report in February), and if we can turn a corner on this crisis quickly, we should be able to bounce back. But sustained lockdowns, closed businesses and prolonged unemployment threaten to inflict unprecedented damage to individuals, families and all aspects of our society.
We need serious prayer right now for “all those in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-3), and specifically that the cooler heads will prevail. Benjamin Franklin included another prescient warning in a letter he wrote in 1775: “Passion governs, and she never governs wisely.”
Certain principles have guided our extraordinary nation and ensured our success since the time of our founding, and some of us are fighting to ensure those principles are not abandoned now. Our guarantees of individual freedom and limited government secured by the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, free markets and human dignity are essential components of our foundation–and previously fixed points on the American horizon–that we must maintain.
The Bible has a lot to say about these subjects, and the fact that God will hear and respond to he humble, contrite prayers of His people, and forgive and heal our land. (2 Chron. 7:14) The Bible also ensures us that if we seek wisdom earnestly, God will give it to us generously. (James 1:5)
In January 1974, Ronald Reagan spoke at the first Conservative Political Action Conference, at another time in our history when our fixed points on the horizon were being challenged and discredited. His clarity, conviction and consistency echo still today:
“We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of America was all that stood between the world and the return to the dark ages, Pope Pius XII said, ‘The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.’ We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.”
We still are. And we can get through THIS CHALLENGE, too, with God’s help.
“Lord, give us wisdom.”